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Is eating cowskin (ponmo) harmful?

Cowskin (cow hide) is the outer covering (skin) of cow  which is removed after the cow is slaughtered.

Facts about Cowskin
• Cowskin can be processed into ponmo,  a food delicacy.
• Cowskin can be processed into leather.
• Cowskin are  used in the food industries to make food items such as jelly, gelatin sheets, fruit or wine gums and gummy bears.
• Gelatine extracted from the cow skin is used in the pharmaceutical industries to make casing for medicines and added to medicines as a gelling agent.
• They are also used in the cosmetic industries.

Ponmo or Kanda is a food delicacy in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Indonesia, Carribean and some other countries. People (both rich and poor) consume them as  delicacies or in place of expensive fish or meat.
The process of converting cowskin to ponmo involves shaving the cowskin hair and then boiling or roasting the cowskin till it is soft.

Reports have shown that ponmo has some nutritional values such as collagen, carbohydrates, dietary fibre and micronutrients . The collagen is helpful for those aging and our elderly ones, in improving skin and hair. Also, ponmo is a good delicacy for weight-loss diet.

Ponmo may be harmless but some factors such as  method of cattle breeding, presence of skin parasites and diseases,  environmental factors, method of cow skin processing especially by burning, and addition of chemicals by corrupt ponmo processors, determine the levels of chemical in them and can make them harmful.

A toxic ponmo cannot be easily differentiated, however white ponmo which didn’t pass  through fire is said to be better than the brown ones whose hair were singed with fire.

Tips for ponmo preparation

• It is advised to soak ponmo in salt water after purchase.
• It is advised to wash/scrub thoroughly  with sponge.
• Rise out with fresh lemon or lime juice (optional).
• It is advised to blanch  ponmo before cooking and to cook well at high temperature.
• It is advised to combine pomo with other proteins and vegetables in a meal and not to make it the primary source of protein.

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