What Is Canola Meal?
In short, Canola Meal is the main remaining by-product of the production of Canola Oil from a sub-species of the Rapeseed plant.
This Canola Meal is ground up into a fine brown powder that resembles soil or other plant-based meals and is unrecognizable from its plant beginnings.
Given that Canola Oil is one of the most popular plant-based oils in the world, along with Sunflower Oil and Olive Oil, it is produced on a monumental scale worldwide.
As a consequence of this, there is a huge volume of Canola Meal produced, and Canola manufacturers soon devised other uses for this by-product to generate extra revenue.
The primary use for Canola Meal is for livestock animals such as dairy cows, pigs, and even fish farms. For these livestock animals, Canola Meal can act as a cost-effective and nutritious food to aid with their fast-paced growth.
However, some pet owners may have also noticed that there is Canola Meal present in their commercial pet food. While using Canola Meal for livestock is one thing, is it appropriate for pets like dogs and cats?
Why Is Canola Meal In Pet Food?
It is not abundantly clear why many pet food brands choose to use Canola Meal in their recipes as most do not comment, but we do have some suspicions and ideas.
Firstly, Canola Meal is high in protein which is a critical factor when choosing ingredients for dog and cat food recipes. Rather than shell out on more expensive meat or fish ingredients, you can use Canola Meal to top up the levels of protein in the recipe.
However, Canola Meal is known to have somewhat of an unpleasant taste which makes it difficult for pet food brands to use large portions of it without additional flavoring to mask that taste.
Highly connected to this first reason that Canola Meal is found in pet food; the second reason we believe Canola Meal is used in pet food recipes is that it is extremely cost-effective.
As we mentioned, it is a by-product of the production of Canola Oil, and so manufacturers are happy to sell it to any buyer they can find for a relatively low cost, especially when compared to meat or fish ingredients.
The last reason that we think Canola Meal may be used in pet food recipes is that it is not well-known among pet owners.
Other ingredients like Pea Protein and Potato Protein are more self-explanatory, whereas Canola Meal is difficult to understand without research.
While no pet food brands would admit this, it is concerning if it is true and is similar to other misleading techniques used in the pet food industry, such as Ingredient Splitting.
Pet Food Brands That Use Canola Meal
Canola Meal’s use in pet food recipes is still far from widespread, and most dog or cat food recipes will not include it. However, there are several pet food brands that are making use of Canola Meal, some of them quite extensively.
Some of the best well-known examples of pet food brands that use Canola Meal in some of their recipes include Purina Pro Plan, Purina One, Purina Beneful, Purina Beyond, Whole Earth Farms, Rachael Ray Nutrish, and American Journey.
As you can see, it seems that Purina and its sub-brands are probably the biggest utilizers of Canola Meal in the industry, however, its not clear at this point why that is so and why some of their competitors, like Royal Canin, and Hill’s Science Diet, do not use it.
You can see an example of Purina’s use of Canola Meal in the ingredient list of Purina Pro Plan’s Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon Adult Large Breed Formula.
As you can see above, the portion size of Canola Meal in this Purina Pro Plan recipe is substantial, and it is the 5th listed ingredient, above other high-quality ingredients like Fish Meal or Salmon Meal.
However, not all pet food brands use Canola Meal in large portion sizes such as this, and for them, it may feature much further down the ingredient list.
Should You Avoid Pet Food With Canola Meal?
Many in the industry look down upon plant-based by-products or protein concentrates and believe they are not appropriate addition to a dog or cat’s diet.
Instead, they believe that dogs and cats should consume a diet high in animal or fish-based protein and fat, which is more in line with their natural diet and contains a full range of amino acids.
However, given that Canola Meal is used by some of the world’s biggest pet food brands, such as Purina, it is likely that significant research and trials have taken place around its use.
This causes a split between those who do not think it is a high-quality ingredient and those who trust these longstanding pet food brands.
Regardless of opinion, we would recommend avoiding any pet food recipes with a large portion of Canola Meal, but for those with more minor portions, it is not a huge concern.