Many lovers of cow skin popularly known as ponmo in Nigeria are at a big risk as health officials have warned that toxic cattle used for leather production have flooded the country’s market.
The Ogun state commissioner for Agriculture, Funke Sokefun, who raised the alarm, warned residents of the state that the markets were flooded with ponmo reportedly processes with industrial chemicals such as biocides and fungicides.
It was said that ponmo allegedly imported from Japan, Italy, Sudan and some other African and European countries are toxic.
She said what is being sold is raw hide meant for leather production. These hides are often brownish, foul-smelling, abnormally thick with layers and also cheap compared to the certified ponmo.
Meanwhile, ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with some sellers, buyers and also food vendors. One of the ponmo sellers at Ogba Sunday Market said there were two species of ponmo in the market.
She said, we have the soft ones (ponmo dudu) and the very thick ones. However, many people prefer the thick ones because they are cheap and don’t get soft easily when cooked unlike the soft black ones.
She also explained how she got the animal skin (ponmo). She said, she bought them from a whole seller who usually got them from the abattoir.
But according to some food vendors at Oluwole Estate, Ogba, Lagos, they usually buy the animal skin from Sunday Market because of the stress of going to the abattoir at Agege to get them.
One of them said she goes to abattoir at Agege to get them and that she has been selling ponmo from time and nothing has happened to her. So, she thinks it’s not true.
But according to a buyer, she said she uses it to prepare ogbonna, efo riro and sometimes egusi soup. She said she also uses it to make stew sometimes so as to give taste to it. Another buyer said the government can’t stop it because we have been consuming it from time and it is now that the government wants to stop the consumption.
It is going to stop the business of our food, the woman emphasized.
But according to nutritionists, they said, it adds no nutritional value to the body.
The nutritionists with the Garki General Hospital, Abuja, Dr. Oluyemisi, said the processing of ponmo gives her concern.
- GIDEON ONIYIDE