This is something I have come across on this site as well as other places..I would also like to know people's opinions:
"In premium cat food, what is the difference between the ingredient listing Meat and the ingredient listing Meal?
The principle component of chicken meat is water. By weight, a chicken is 70-75% water. So actually, when you see "chicken" or "lamb" on the top of an ingredient list in pet food, it means the water weight in the raw (wet) meat is what qualified it to be first. Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight, with the heaviest first, under standards set by the Center for Veterinary Medicine for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
After the cooking process, where up to 75% of the chicken evaporates, the actual chicken content is reduced to being the 4th or 5th ingredient in your dog's food. So for every five pounds of raw (wet) meat used in some brands of dog food, as little as one pound may end up in the finished product. This occurs because 75% of a raw (wet) chicken is water, which evaporates during the cooking process.
On the other hand, meal is fresh meat, with the water and fat already removed. It takes 5 pounds of fresh chicken meat to make 1 pound of meal. So when you see chicken meal or lamb meal listed as the first ingredient on a dog food label, the chicken or lamb is really in the bag where it counts as a superior food source