A large quantity of poisonous ponmo – ‘cattle hides’ has been discovered in some markets in Ogun State, the state commissioner for Agriculture, Ronke Sokefun, has said.
Addressing ‘ponmo’ dealers and other stakeholders in the state on Thursday, the commissioner warned against consumption of the toxic delicacy.
Ms. Sokefun said investigations showed that some unscrupulous businessmen were taking advantage of the gap in demand and supply of the dried cattle hides to make brisk business with the adulterated ones.
She said due to the rising demand, the businessmen started selling to unsuspecting buyers what she termed “industrial ponmo”, which was processed with tanning chemicals.
“Tanning chemicals like biocides and fungicides are added along the processing chain to preserve the hides against protein degradation, bacteria and mould growth that would have damaged the hides and skin.
“The raw hides are later processed into the local delicacy called “ponmo” and bought by unsuspecting members of the public for consumption.
”The government, being aware of the health implication of the consumption of this imported hides and skin considers it important to enlighten the public on the danger inherent in the consumption and prevent further sales of the product as food of animal origin in the state,” she said.
The commissioner pointed out that “the toxic ponmo is often brownish black, foul smelling, abnormally thick with layered sections and ridiculously cheap in price compared to the certified ponmo.”
She further disclosed that the cattle hides and skin are raw hides that are meant for leather production in some African and European countries like Sudan, Italy and Japan.
“The ministry of Agriculture is collaborating with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, which has commenced investigation and placed a trail on the importer.
“In addition, we are in strategic liaisons with the public health department of the Ministry of Health and all environmental health departments of local government councils to confiscate such ponmo at our various markets,” she said.