The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), on Sunday said it has intercepted a large quantity of dangerous animal hides and skins popularly known as ‘Ponmo’ in Lagos.
Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of NAFDAC, in a statement issued by the Agency’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola said the seven merchants of the deadly ponmo have been arrested.
Adeyeye however warned, the general public, particularly consumers of Ponmo against the activities of some unscrupulous businessmen and traders who are selling industrial animal hides as food articles.
She said that NAFDAC Investigation and Enforcement officials swiftly carried out intelligence gathering around certain locations where the alleged products were being warehoused and sold.
The D-G said the development was in response to several complaints received from the public, pertaining to alleged sale and distribution of imported hides and skins meant for use in leather industries.
She added that the deadly hides and skins already processed with industrial chemicals are then sold to unsuspecting public as consumable animal skin ( Ponmo).
According to her, ” Monitoring was also extended to some buyers who patronize the sellers and custodians of the warehouse.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that some of the hides and skins were imported illegally and sometimes diverted to some merchants who re-process them and sell to the public as ponmo.
“The street value of the product currently intercepted is estimated to be around N25.330m only.”
Adeyeye said In the light of these discoveries, NAFDAC recently conducted investigative raids upon some identified locations in Lagos where traders were found clustered for purchase of leftovers from the warehouses.
She disclosed that 120 tons of the products were intercepted at six different locations, stressing that seven suspects who were alleged to be involved in the acts are currently under investigation.
The NAFDAC boss further explained that samples of the products have been sent to the laboratory for testing so as to ascertain the products quality and unwholesomeness.
According to her, the intervention would help the Agency deal with the interaction and the dangers associated with the consumption of these products.
Adeyeye alerted the general public on the existence of these merchants of death and their nefarious activities as she warned Nigerians to exercise caution when buying animal hides, popularly known as Ponmo.
“NAFDAC wishes to advise consumers and retailers of Ponmo not to patronize importers of hides and skins for consumable animal skins,” she said.
She further warned that the hides, are pre-treated with industrial chemicals which are not of food grade will be toxic and injurious to human health.
Adeyeye said the health hazards inherent in the consumption of such animal hides include risk of Liver, Kidney and Heart damage, increased risk of Aplastic anemia, Central nervous system toxicity, Cancer, among others.
“The general public is hereby encouraged to be very vigilant and exercise discretion when purchasing animal hides PONMO and indeed other food items.
“NAFDAC is fully alive to her responsibilities of assuring the safety, wholesomeness, and quality of processed foods offered for sale to the public”, Adeyeye said.