Freshly prepared meat or FPM is a fairly new and very interesting ingredient. Despite it already being used widely in dry pet foods, many manufacturers that use it are reluctant to give too many details on its exact nature which has led to a lot of confusion on the ingredient.
In order to examine Freshly Prepared Meat we must first look at meat meal, which FPM is usually used to replace. Meat meal (or Dry Rendered Meat / DRM) has long been the mainstay of the dry pet food industry but in recent years has fallen from favour somewhat, at least in the super-premium market. This is because:
- Consumers increasingly (and correctly) see it as inferior to real fresh meat.
- It can only be added to foods in relatively small quantities due to its very high concentration of protein and ash. In an age where every premium food wants to boast about the percentage of meat in their foods, this is a considerable drawback.
So dry food manufacturers began looking for alternatives. Fresh meat isn't ideal as the large amount of water it contains (~75%) makes it much harder to form a stable, dry biscuit.
Freshly Prepared Meat, on the other hand, is perfect. It only contains around 60% moisture which is much easier for extruders to handle, it's not as concentrated as meat meal so you can put a much higher proportion into the food and, with some careful marketing, you can make everyone think it's real fresh meat!
But real fresh meat it is not.
What is Freshly Prepared Meat?
Producing Freshly Prepared Meat involves several steps :
- Mechanical separation of the animal carcass through a deboning machine.
A chicken carcass, for example, is a chicken, exclusive of feathers, head, feet and entrails and with the majority of actual meat (muscular tissue) removed for human consumption. It may be frozen.
- Grinding reduces particle size to produce a fine paste.
- Pasteurisation - the application of relatively low levels of heat (usually less than 100°C) for a short amount of time to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf life.
- Separation of water and fat via centrifuge. These can then be added back to the mixture depending on the nutritional specifications of the manufacturer.
- Concentration by low temperature vacuum evaporation.
What you are left with at the end of the five steps is a fairly viscous, beige-coloured 'meat slurry'. This is called 'Freshly Prepared Meat'.
How does Freshly Prepared Meat compare?
FPM has a number of advantages over meat meal :
- It has a higher protein digestibility and availability
- It has a lower oxidised fat content
- It is considerably more palatable to dogs
Unfortunately, no similar comparison has been done between FPM and fresh meat.
How is FPM affected by the extrusion process?
Amazingly, nobody seems to know or at least no one wants to tell me.
One study  demonstrated that freeze-dried FPM remains nutritionally superior to meat meal following extrusion but since FPM in extruded food is not freeze-dried, these findings seem pretty irrelevant.
Another study , however, showed that real fresh meat, once extruded, is no more nutritious than meat meal so while this is likely to also be the case for FPM, it is currently impossible to say.
Why the secrecy
FPM is not a bad ingredient by any stretch but it is not exactly what most people picture when they hear the words 'freshly prepared meat'. For this reason, manufacturers are reluctant to provide too much information about FPM that might shatter your preconceived illusions.
Freshly Prepared Meat is essentially a meat concentrate - a midpoint between fresh meat and meat meal. As an alternative to meat meal it performs very well and provides a number of benefits. It is not, however, real fresh meat and any manufacturer suggesting that it is is arguably misleading their customers.
- Low temperature processed meat in extruded dry petfood: 2- Effect of commercial scale processing on nutritional and eating qualities; University of Nottingham, 2015. https://www.atavik.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/pdf-etude-frais-deshydrate-fr-2018-update.pdf. Scroll down on the linked page for the full paper and an accompanying slide show. Apologies for the weird location of the paper but this really is the only place I can find it.
- Protein and amino acid bioavailability of extruded dog food with protein meals of different quality using growing mink (Neovison vison) as a model; Tjernsbekk MT, Tauson AH, Matthiesen Cf, Ahlostrom O. Journal of Animal Science 2016; 94:3796-3804.
- Raw, mechanically separated chicken meat and salmon protein hydrolysate as protein sources in extruded dog food: Effect on protein and amino acid digestibility; Tjernsbekk MT, TAuson AH, Kraugerus OF, Ahlstrom O. Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 2017.
Find foods containing Freshly Prepared Meat See the full Ingredient Glossary