Preserving foods with chemicals causes cancer—NAFDAC
By Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
LAGOS—FOLLOWING warnings by the Lagos State Ministry of Health over the circulation of poisonous cow skin popularly known as ponmo, traders in Lagos yesterday admitted the existence of such products, saying they have shunned the sale.
A visit by Vanguard to some markets in Lagos revealed that the traders are aware of the difference between unwholesome ponmo and those safe for consumption.
The traders noted that the difference between the good and the bad ponmo is clear as the unwholesome ponmo is usually thicker and smuggled into the country from Niger Republic.
A trader at Oshodi Market, Mrs. Idowu Isaiah told Vanguard that she buys her ponmo from Ijebu Ode in Ogun State, saying they are safe for consumption.
She said: “We know about the poisonous ponmo. It is bigger than the normal Ijebu-Ode ponmo, and they usually bring them from Niger Republic. Most times, they use camel skin and preserve it with series of chemicals, so when boiled, they do it with alum. These steps will now help the ponmo to swell up. Again, apart from swelling up, it is usually slippery when you touch it.”
Although, some of the traders who spoke to Vanguard denied selling the products, they hinted that already, health officials from the Lagos State Ministry of Health recently sensitized them on the implication of poisonous cow-skin and since then, they have stopped selling such ponmo.
A trader at the market, Mrs. Ijeoma Ugo said: “I used to sell it then because it was more profitable but since we have been warned not to sell it again, I stopped it because I cannot because of profit inflict injuries on someone’s life.”
Preserving foods with chemicals causes cancer — NAFDAC
Reacting to the development, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Prof. Christianah Adeyeye said: “Preserving ponmo with chemicals can kill slowly. The same thing happens with ripening of fruits with carbide, it goes into the tissues and basic cells of the body and before you know it, you will start having cancer.”
“We are also embarking on an enlightenment programme on the dangers of preserving foods with chemicals.”