The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has cautioned members of the public to be wary of contaminated animal hides and skin, popularly known as ‘Ponmo’ being sold in Lagos State.
Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, stated this while announcing the seizure of large quantity of animal skin and seven importers in Lagos.
She warned members of the public, particularly consumers of Ponmo against the activities of the unscrupulous businessmen and traders, who are selling industrial animal hides and skin for human consumption.
In a statement issued by the Resident Media Consultant to NAFDAC, Sayo Akintola, the agency revealed that the hides were treated with industrial chemicals not fit for food grade and will be injurious to human health.
She stressed that the danger of consuming the toxic ponmo include risk of liver, kidney and heart damage, increased risk of aplastic anaemia, central nervous system toxicity and cancer, among others.
NAFDAC also disclosed that its investigation and enforcement officials have carried out intelligence gathering in certain locations where the products were allegedly being warehoused and sold.
It said it responded to several complaints from members of the public on alleged sale and distribution of the imported hides and skin meant for use in leather industries and which had already been processed with industrial chemicals.
“Monitoring was also extended to some buyers, who patronise the sellers and custodians of the warehouse,’’ she said, adding that preliminary investigation revealed that some of the hides and skin were imported illegally and sometimes diverted to some buyers, who reprocess them and sell them as edible Ponmo to members of the public.
Following the discovery, she said that the agency recently raided some identified locations in Lagos State where market women and men were found clustered for purchase of leftovers from the warehouses.
Adeyeye further disclosed that 120 tons of the products were intercepted in six different locations, stressing that seven suspects, who were alleged to be involved in the act were currently being investigated.
The NAFDAC boss further explained that samples of the products have been sent to the laboratory for test to ascertain the quality and toxicity, adding that the intervention would help the agency to deal with the interaction and the dangers associated with the consumption of the product.
“The street value of the product currently intercepted is estimated at N25.330 million. NAFDAC advises consumers and retailers of Ponmo not to patronise importers of hides and skin as consumable animal skin,” she said.