How we arrested Two in Rivers with truckloads of stinking, adulterated ‘ponmo’ from Madagascar – Police
Agency in charge of consumables in Nigeria, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has, again, warned Nigerians to exercise caution when buying animal hides, popularly known in the country as Ponmo.
Ponmo a stable ‘protein’ for the poor is also consumed as one of the key soup ingredients by the rich.
This came as the Rivers State government has handed two persons accompanying a truckload of these substandard animal hide in Elemme local government area of the state to the police.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Fred Kpakol confirmed the incident to journalists in Port Harcourt adding that from the import papers, the seized products came into the country from Madagascar.
Mr Kpakol said that the seized goods and the suspects have been taken to the police area command in Eleme for further investigation.
The commissioner disclosed that the arrest was made possible following a tip-off.
Kpakol stated, “We got a tip-off that some canda meat that was imported found its way into the state. We went in and found out that it had come in from the Onne Port.
“It’s was a container full of canda meat. We were able to intercept it and took it to the area command. When it was opened, it was discovered that it was adulterated and stinking.
Meanwhile, the Area Police Commander, Martins Nwogu said the suspects claimed the consignment was owned by a man identified simply as Alhaji.
They also claimed that the products are raw materials for making bags and shoes.
Meanwhile, a statement earlier issued and signed by the Director-General (DG) of the agency, Mojisola Adeyeye, said investigations revealed that “unscrupulous businessmen and traders are now diverting animal hides meant for industrial use into the food chain for consumption”.
Adeyeye explained that some of these animal hides were pre-treated with industrial chemicals, which were not of food grade and were toxic and injurious to human health.
According to her, some companies legally imported hides from countries like Lebanon and Turkey, while majority of the product was smuggled into the country through the porous borders.
“The Management of NAFDAC wishes to use this medium to alert the general public and in particular consumers of animal hides popularly known as Ponmo on the activities of some unscrupulous business men and traders,” the statement read.
“These imported animal hides are meant for industrial use by leather industries for the manufacturing of items such as shoes, bag, belt and others.
“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 and many more,’’ she added.
The DG also said livestock farmers are advised to note that industrial animal hides could not be used to manufacture animal feed.
“The associated chemicals will be stored in the tissues of these animals and will eventually end up in humans when consumed with the attendant effects.
“NAFDAC, therefore, encourage the general public to be vigilant and exercise discretion when purchasing animal hides, PONMO and indeed other food items,’’ Adeyeye said in the statement.
She stated that NAFDAC was fully alive to its responsibilities of assuring the safety, wholesomeness and quality of processed foods offered for sale to the public.
“The agency has increased the tempo of targeted and aggressive routine and unannounced inspections to monitor activities of animal hide merchants.
“This is to ensure that only food grade animal hide, PONMO, is sold as food article in the markets,’’ the NAFDAC head said.