Japan Recalls Dozens of Health Supplements Linked to Deaths, Hospitalizations and Kidney Damage

Red mould supplement pill linked to deaths and hospitalisations pulled from shelves in Japan

The Japanese government has ordered a recall of several health supplement brands containing the ingredient ‘benikoji’ after two deaths and more than 100 hospitalizations were suspected to be linked to the supplements. The Japanese government took this action following reports of kidney-related complaints from customers.

Kobayashi Company, based in Osaka, is investigating the potential connection between their products and the adverse effects on kidneys. The ingredient Monascus purpureus, a red mould commonly used as a food colouring, is found in the recalled supplements. In addition to Kobayashi’s products, over 40 other brands containing benikoji have also been recalled, including items like miso paste, crackers, and vinegar dressing.

Health Minister Keizo Takemi has urged Kobayashi Pharmaceutical to provide information promptly, and the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare is collecting data on potential health damage caused by the supplements. The company is advising customers to discontinue the use of their products and to refrain from using them in the future.

The official from the ministry warned that there may be more victims in the coming days and advised everyone to avoid benikoji, especially those with pre-existing health conditions. While red yeast rice is known to be an alternative to statins for lowering cholesterol levels, medical studies caution about the risks of organ damage depending on its composition. Though it is unclear if any of the ingredients were imported into Japan for these supplements’ production. This incident marks the first significant recall of a domestically produced health supplement in Japan.

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