It is known and popularly called “wele” (cow hide) in Ghanaian parlance which is very cheap and common on the Ghanaian market. Some “Wele” are hard and others soft, however it is a common delicacy in almost every meal-particularly cooked rice, “wakye”, ground-nut and palm nut soup.
“Wele's” affordability has perhaps made many Ghanaians to lose sight of its nutritional value and like health hazards.
Painstaking research conducted by The Point into the process of getting “wele” from animal hide and its nutritional value, however met with frightening revelations.
In an interview to ascertain the nutritional value of “Wele” the common delicacy of Ghanaians irrespective of social status, the head of the Nutrition Unit at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) Mr Jacob Armah, emphasized that “those who 'consume “Wele” should exercise caution because “Wele” can be cancerous due to the process by which it is prepared.”
“Lots of Ghanaians consume “Wele” because they see it as fun when chewing it. We must try as much as possible to stop its consumption. This is because its health implications are so enormous for the consuming public” he warned.
He lamented that, intensive research has not been conducted into what “Wele” is really made up of. He added that, efforts must be made to quickly undertake studies on it and further education the general populace about its health implications.
He noted that, because the animal skin is burnt with car tyres before getting the “Wele”, it becomes contaminated with some compounds and chemicals from the tyre which is dangerous to health and can consequently lead to cancer in the long run.
Mr Armah intimated that, the usage of petrol in burning it during its preparation could also have some damaging effects on the health of “Wele” consumers.