Questions On Cow Skin’s (Ponmo) Nutritional Value Answered


Cow skin in local parlance in Nigeria is called “pomo” (sometimes spelt as Ponmo). I prefer to choose the latter. In Nigeria and many other developing countries where skin of cow and other  animals like sheep and goat are separated and sold separately, it is mainly due to poverty. The cost of beef has led to more people opting for cow skin, which is a lot cheaper. Please be informed that the cow skin is subjected to some form of treatment by the processors before it is being sold as Ponmo. That is not the subject of this discussion.
Before I talk about the nutritional value of ponmo (cow skin), I want to just share this with you on a lighter mood; a news article published by the BBC about cow skin and Nigeria sometimes in the year was titled “Nigeria eats its shoe leather”. Yes, we eat so much of ponmo that we have no cow skin left for the leather industry. In the article, Dr Samuel Achi, the provost of Federal College of Chemical and Leather Technology, Zaria, noted that “pomo eaters, have decided to walk on bare feet because they have decided to eat their own shoes in their pots”.

Is Cow Skin (Ponmo) Nutritious?

In most developed countries of the world, cow skin is generally not used as food. Hence, there are little or no research works on the nutritional value of cow skin. A large proportion of the cow skins are being shipped to the leather industry where they are converted to shoes, cloth and more.
There is limited information on the nutrients available in Ponmo. The only authoritative article you would see online is seen on PunchNG in a news article that reported events at the third joint anniversary of the Animal Science Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Institute of Animal Science, held at the University of Ibadan in 2014.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, also spoke at the event entitled, “Value addition in the Nigerian livestock industry: A strategy for economic growth and stakeholders’ empowerment.”
The article on PunchNG and other sources reported the nutritional benefits of ponmo as follows;

The nutritional analysis of a 40 gram piece of ponmo is:

Calories (150g); Total fat (4g); Saturated fat (1g); Poly saturated fat (0g); Mono saturated fat (0g); Trans fat (0g); Cholesterol (0g); Sodium (0mg); Potassium (0mg); Total carbohydrate (0g);
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); Iron (0 per cent).
From this analysis, you will see that ponmo is lacking in all essential nutrients. However, I have seen adverts by some food processors/manufacturers in China who claim to make nutritional kpomo or ponmo. They claim to have fortified the cow skin with essential nutrients. I have nothing to back up their claims.
It has also been pointed out by some people that it may just contain some protein. Yes, collagen is a protein in skin, muscle and meat of animals but for those of us that know, there is something called Protein Quality. Collagen is not a complete protein because it is lacking in the amino acid tryptophan.
Although Collagen has a lot of applications in medicine and food industry (e.g. making gelatin), from a nutritional point of view, collagen and gelatin are poor-quality sole source of protein since they do not contain all the essential amino acids in the proportions that the human body requires—they are not ‘complete proteins’.

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