Official scare-mongering about Ponmo backfires

Official scare-mongering about Ponmo backfires

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 6:12 pm

An attempt by a Nigerian government official to scare Nigerians away from consuming cow skin, known locally as ponmo, has backfired.

Responses by Nigerians to an earlier post in triggered a dose of disbelief….people taking with a pinch of salt what they suspect may be a mere scare mongering about the health hazards of ponmo.

Ponmo: expert warning  on health effects not having intended effect

Ponmo: expert warning on health effects not having intended effect

Coming so soon after the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina hinted on government’s plan to ban ponmo consumption, to allow the leather industry thrive, the warning by Dr. Isuwa Adamu Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST), Zaria, was being received with some suspicion.

Adamu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the consumption of the product as meat substitute was dangerous to health.. Really. One reader scoffed at the claim and said she is awaiting a scientific evidence about this statement.

“you do not have valid scientific evidence. Na lie you dey talk”, said a logger simply called Rita.

But science was the basis of Adamu’s warning.

According to him , scientifically, ponmo does not have any nutritional value to human health.“In fact, it is not advisable for you to consume ponmo in the sense that some of the animals killed and used for ponmo actually have skin diseases.

‘`Some of these skin diseases are such that boiling them ordinarily, may not kill the bacteria,’’ Adamu said.

He added that some of the animals killed had been ill and undergoing injections but the rearers went ahead to kill them, leaving the buyers vulnerable to chemicals in the animal skin.

“Some of the animals because of the ailments that they have gone through, are sometimes treated by way of injection with chemicals. People don’t allow these chemicals to complete its cycle and be removed from the body; they sometimes go ahead to kill these animals. So, if you consume the ponmo, the tendency is that you are consuming the chemicals directly because the skin part of the animal retains most of the harmful substances.

“Remember your skin is the major protective organ of your body and your skin harbours so many of the harmful things that are supposed to penetrate into your body,’’ he explained.

He added that the skin of animals harbour so many of the harmful waste materials that the body secretes and boiling only could not remove some of those wastes.

The NILEST boss said the institute was putting up efforts to sensitise the public and advise governments on policies that will help to reduce the consumption of animal skin to the barest minimum.

According to him, ponmo consumption is a national and traditional issue that just putting up laws may not really help to stop it.

Adamu advised the government to come up with policies that could be enforced to reduce the consumption of hides and skin as meat substitute.He added that this would enhance the quality and quantity of raw hides and skin that are available to meet the demands of the tanneries.

As a delicacy, ponmo is eaten by African people, including Africans in the Caribbean

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