The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has intercepted 120 tons of imported chemical-laden animal hides and skins popularly known as ‘Ponmo’.
In a statement, the agency said the large quantities of dangerous ‘Ponmo’ were intercepted at six different locations in Lagos.
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The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said seven suspects involved in the act are currently under investigation.
She said that samples of the products have been sent to the laboratory for testing to ascertain the products’ quality and unwholesomeness.
‘’The street value of the product currently intercepted is estimated to be around N25.330m only’’, she said.
Prof Adeyeye warned Nigerians to be cautious when buying ‘Ponmo’.
She said, ‘’NAFDAC wishes to advise consumers and retailers of ‘Ponmo’ not to patronize importers of hides and skins for consumable animal skins’’.
She said that the hides are pre-treated with industrial chemicals which are not of food-grade and are toxic and injurious to human health.
She added that 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, and cancer, amongst several 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’’, she said.
The NAFDAC DG said the agency’s investigation and enforcement officials carried out intelligence gathering around certain locations where the alleged products were being warehoused and sold.
She said, “This 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 and which had already been processed with industrial chemicals.
“These hides and skins are then sold to unsuspecting public as consumable animal skin products, otherwise called ‘Ponmo.’
‘’Monitoring was also extended to some buyers who patronize the sellers and custodians of the warehoused.”
The NAFDAC boss added that preliminary investigation revealed that some of the hides and skins were imported illegally and sometimes diverted to some merchants of death who re-process the hides and skins and further sell them as consumable ‘Ponmo’ to the public.