ENCOMIUM Weekly had a telephone conversation with a nutritionist, Miss Adewale Adebusola about the controversy over the consumption of ponmo on Monday, November 30, 2015. She said ponmo doesn’t have any nutritional value that is essential to the body.
Her words: “In about 40 grams of ponmo, there is 150 grams of caloric and 4 grams of fat” and this means ponmo only supplies energy to the body and doesn’t give the body any essential nutrient like potassium and others.”
She also said ponmo has very low far. She harped on the dangers of consumption of ponmo saying that there are some animals that have been infected with a particular disease and they use chemical to cure them, but those that rear them would not allow the chemical to finish working before they kill and sell them for people to consume. So, if someone now consumes the skin, that means he is consuming the chemical which can cause cancer or other infections.
She also gave an alternative for people eating cow hides (ponmo). She said instead of consuming ponmo, they can go for fish or white meat.
“There are different types of fish so people can go for fish or meat other than ponmo.”
She also spoke on the alleged recommendation of ponmo by doctors for their patients. She said, she has never seen any doctor that does that but she gave an instance of what could have happened.
“It may be due to the high consumption of meat and chicken by the patient. The doctor could recommend ponmo for the patient so as to stabilize the high consumption of meat and chicken.”
ENCOMIUM Weekly interviewed some food vendors on the situation. Speaking to Iya Abbey, a food vendor on Thomas Salako Street, Ogba (Ikeja, Lagos) on November 26, 2015, she said she sells only fried ponmo and not the smoked one. She said, “I get the fresh one from meat sellers and I wash it with hot water before I fry it and cook it for my customers. There are three ways of preserving ponmo. We have the frying, drying and smoking methods. But I prefer frying.”
Another food vendor in Ogba, Madam Favour said, the government can’t stop us from selling ponmo because we have been consuming it from time and ponmo hasn’t killed anyone.
She said, “If the government wants us to stop selling and consuming ponmo, that means we would stop eating meat as well because meat and ponmo are gotten from cow.”
She added that government should also tell us what is suitable for our health. She said, “I sell N1,000 worth of ponmo everyday. I use some to prepare stew and some soup. So, it’s going to affect my business because it is because of the ponmo inside the soup that people buy my food.”
Madam Favour also said, she doesn’t support the government going against ponmo because she believes ponmo has no fat. It is even recommended by doctors because it has no fat.
She also said it is not possible for government to ban ponmo because nothing can be banned in Nigeria, they just say it.
Speaking to a customer at Madam Favour’s eatery, who just finished eating ponmo, Mr. Opeyemi, he said, ban of ponmo will bring fall in the economic sector and also increase fat in human body. He said some people that do ponmo business will have to start another business and it is not easy to start up another business. Most of the people selling ponmo are in their early 30s or 40s, so it would not be easy for them.
He added that it would affect meat sellers and also food vendors. He said it is going to reduce their customers because people now run away from fat. When the government go against eating of ponmo, what food vendors would be left with are fish and egg which have fat. Moreover, they can’t throw away the animal skin when it is killed.
He said he doesn’t support the government on their decision because the disadvantages are more than the advantages.
Another consumer, Mrs. Wunmi said she buys the fresh one and not the smoked ones, adding that, there are different types of ponmo. There is the cow skin and there is the camel skin. The difference is that the cow skin is thicker while the camel skin is soft, but she prefers the camel skin.
She added, “We haven’t seen anybody that ponmo has killed. Until the government makes public the person pnomo has killed, then we are going to believe them. But for me, I don’t believe them and I still eat ponmo. ‘