In a statement made available to the public, the food and drug regulator advised Nigerians to be cautious of the type of ponmo they purchase for consumption, as the unwholesome practice of selling animal hides and skin as food is putting people in serious trouble.
The unwholesome practice: Since 2015, following intelligence reports, NAFDAC, through its Investigation and Enforcement Directorate, has been successfully dealing with isolated cases of dangerous diversion of animal hides meant for industrial use into the food chain for consumption. This practice, according to the agency, poses a grave danger to the health of the general public.
NAFDAC’s investigations revealed that some of the companies legally imported hides from countries such as Lebanon and Turkey, while the majority of the products were 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, bags, belts, amongst others. The hides, therefore, are pretreated with industrial chemicals which are not of food-grade and will be toxic and injurious to human health.
The threat: Consuming animal hides that are meant for industrial purposes poses serious health hazards to the human body. Health hazards inherent in the consumption of such animal hides include the risk of liver, kidney and heart damage, increased risk of aplastic anaemia, central nervous system toxicity, cancer, and others.
Livestock farmers are also to note that industrial animal hides can not be used to manufacture animal feeds, 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.
Implications: Aside from the health implications, the unwholesome practice is also threatening the survival of genuine businessmen and traders, who are running legit businesses.
Adhering to NAFDAC’s alert will simply mean that ponmo purchase for consumption will be greatly reduced or amounted to zero, as the agency itself is yet to sensitize the general public on how to identify the type of animal skin that is good for consumption.