The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has alerted the general public and in particular consumers of animal hides popularly known as ‘PONMO’ on the activities of some unscrupulous business men and traders who are selling industrial animal hides as food article.
As far back as 2015, following intelligence reports, the Agency, through Investigation and Enforcement Directorate, had been successfully dealing with isolated cases of dangerous diversion of animal hides meant for industrial use into the food chain for consumption as local delicacy.
It says the practice poses grave danger to public health.
NAFDAC says investigations revealed that some of the companies legally imported hides from countries such as Lebanon and Turkey, while majority of the product was smuggled into the country through the porous borders.
According to a statement issued in Abuja, the imported animal hides are meant for industrial use by leather industries for the manufacture of items such as shoes, bag, belt etc.
“The hides, therefore, are pretreated with industrial chemicals which are not of food grade and will be toxic and injurious to human health. Health hazards inherent in the consumption of such animal hides include risk of Liver, Kidney and Heart damage, increased risk of Aplastic anaemia, Central nervous system toxicity, Cancer, etc”, it said.
It also adviced Live stock farmers to note that industrial animal hides can also not be used to manufacture animal feed, as the associated chemicals will be stored in the tissues of these animals and will eventually end up in humans when consumed with the attendant deleterious effects listed above.
“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. In this regard, the Agency, has increased the tempo of targeted and aggressive routine (unannounced) inspections to monitor activities of animal hide merchants to ensure that only food grade animal hide (PONMO) is sold as food article in our markets”, the statement said.