The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in a release dated July 26, 2019 and made available on its website alerted Nigerians on the dangers inherent in the consumption of animal hides popularly known as PONMO. The agency said that intelligence report since 2015 revealed that some unscrupulous business men and traders sell industrial animal hides as ponmo which poses grave danger to public health.
The agency further revealed that animal hides imported into the country, legally and illegally, are pretreated with industrial chemicals and are only meant for industrial use by leather industries for the manufacture of items such as shoes, bag, belt etc. The hides are thus not of food grade and will be toxic and injurious to human health. Health hazards inherent in the consumption of such animal hides include risk of Liver, Kidney and Heart damage, increased risk of Aplastic anaemia, Central Nervous System toxicity, Cancer, etc.
Similarly, Livestock farmers were also warned from incorporating the industrial animal hides into animal feed, as the associated chemicals will be stored in the tissues of these animals and will eventually end up in humans when consumed with the attendant deleterious effects listed above.
When contacted for comments on the recent alert on ‘ponmo’ by NAFDAC, the Registrar of Nigeria Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), Professor E.A. Iyayi said the Institute is in full support of the NAFDAC position.
NIAS, which is a government agency with mandate to regulate all activities pertaining to livestock husbandry in Nigeria has been at the forefront of boycott of ‘ponmo’ consumption.
“Given the current regime of processors not observing regulations with respect to processing of human foods, the only wise thing to do is to place and enforce a ban for now. But I agree that ponmo is a food delicacy and an economic value chain can arise from ponmo production and processing even as human food. To have that, regulations for its processing as human food must be strictly adhered to. The other thing is that NIAS has been in the fore front in the advocacy for developing and sustaining the leather value chain in Nigeria. The toxic ponmo we eat can be converted to leather, which I believe has more economic value than the direct consumption of the product as food, and which is currently causing all sorts of health hazards anyway, as stated by NAFDAC. So according to NIAS, if you eat your ponmo, you are eating your leather shoes, bags, belts, jacket, upholstery, purses and wallets and all other leather products. Just think of the huge industry we are suppressing by our appetite for a toxic food product!” said Professor Iyayi.
Meanwhile NAFDAC advises the general public to be very vigilant and exercise discretion when purchasing ‘ponmo’ as the agency continues to ensure the safety, wholesomeness and quality of processed foods offered for sale to the public. In this regard, the Agency, has increased the tempo of targeted and aggressive routine (unannounced) inspections to monitor activities of animal hide merchants to ensure that only food grade animal hide (PONMO) is sold as food article in our markets.