Why Many Nigerians Find It Difficult To Part With Ponmo Delicacy
Skins of cows, goats and sheep (hides and skin), popularly known as `ponmo’ have become a delicacy in many homes in Nigeria, the delicious succulent texture of ponmo when cooked and seasoned, makes it a favorite food of many Nigerians.
However, in many developed countries, skins of cows, goats and sheep are not consumed but used in the production of leather and related products.
Economic experts are worried that Nigeria is losing out in the pack of countries competing for the huge global leather industry because of the high rate of consumption of ponmo.
In spite of reports regarding the adverse results the consumption of ponmo posed to human health, many could still not do without ponmo in their pots.
Recently, there were warnings against eating some species of ponmo burnt with tyres on the basis that the processing was not hygienic.
In spite of the health hazards posed by those burning ponmo with tyres, the level of sale and scramble for the commodity in markets nationwide continue to rise unabated.
During the production stages, the commodity is subjected to naked flames to burn the skin of the animal.
According to research, during the burning process, a lot of unhygienic substances such as trash, wood, charcoal, rubber tyres and so on, are thrown into the furnace to sustain the blazing heat.
The black ponmo is burnt, while the white ponmo is boiled and the flesh is scrapped. A further survey of markets in around Nigeria revealed that many people, even the elites, could not do without the delicacy.
Some dietitians and food scientists warned that consumption of ponmo is dangerous to health, adding that some of the animals suffered skin diseases.
They also said that the tyres used in burning the animal skin could cause cancer and some other killer diseases. Recently, the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST), Zaria, Dr Isuwa Adamu, said that consumption of the product “as meat is dangerous to health’’.
“Scientifically, ponmo does not have any nutritional value to human health. “Scientific research has shown that ponmo does not add any nutritional value to human health. “Some of the animals were ponmo is gotten from are usually sick and harbours dangerous injected chemicals and this leaves the consumers vulnerable to the chemicals in the animal skin,’’ Adamu said. An 85-year-old man, Mr Alaba Taiwo, said he never believed ponmo could be hazardous to health.
“I have been eating ponmo right from my childhood and if truly ponmo causes many hidden sicknesses, I would have died a long time ago. “As I am, I like ponmo than real beef and I am medically fit and sound,’’ he said. Mrs Ijeoma Ugba, a Nutritionist at Foods Guts and Psychology Centre, analysed that ponmo was medically proven to have the following:
Calories (150g); and Total fat (4g); Saturated fat (1g); and Poly-saturated fat (0g).
She mentioned Mono-saturated fat (0g); Trans fat (0g); Cholesterol (0g); Sodium (0mg); Potassium (0mg); and Total Carbohydrate (0g); Ugba talked about: Dietary fibre (0g); Sugars (0 per cent); Proteins (0 per cent); Vitamin A (0 per cent); Vitamin C (0 per cent); Calcium (0 per cent); and Iron (0 per cent). Dieticians and food scientists suggested that government should come up with policies to reduce the consumption of ponmo. Apart from the debate over health hazards of the commodity, a reduction in its consumption would provide more raw materials for the tanneries.
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