The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned Nigerians to be careful when buying animal hides, popularly known as ‘ponmo.’
According to a statement issued on Friday and signed by the Director-General of the agency, Moji Adeyeye, investigations revealed that ”unscrupulous businessmen and traders are now diverting animal hides meant for industrial use into the food chain for consumption”.
Mrs Adeyeye said that investigations further revealed that some of the companies illegally imported hides from countries such as Lebanon and Turkey.
She said a majority of the products was smuggled into the country through its porous borders.
The statement indicated that consumption of such animal hides exposes one to the risk of liver, kidney and heart damage, increased risk of Aplastic anaemia, central nervous system toxicity and cancer.
Mrs Adeyeye urged the general public to be very vigilant and exercise discretion when purchasing animal hides.
Statement in full
“The Management of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) wishes to use this medium to ALERT the general public and in particular consumers of animal hides popularly known as PONMO in local parlance on the activities of some unscrupulous business men and traders who are selling industrial animal hides as food article.
“As far back as 2015, following intelligence reports, the Agency, through Investigation and Enforcement Directorate, had been successfully dealing with isolated cases of dangerous diversion of animal hides meant for industrial use into the food chain for consumption as local delicacy PONMO. This practice poses a grave danger to public health.
“Investigations revealed that some of the companies legally imported hides from countries such as Lebanon and Turkey, while the majority of the product was smuggled into the country through the porous borders.
“These imported animal hides are meant for industrial use by leather industries for the manufacture of items such as shoes, bag, belt etc. The hides, therefore, are pretreated with industrial chemicals which are 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.
“Livestock farmers are also to note that industrial animal hides can also not be used to manufacture 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.”