Red Yeast Rice Supplements Recall: Japanese Government Acts to Investigate Kidney Damage Cases

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

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

The ingredient Monascus purpureus, a red mould commonly used as a food colouring, is found in the recalled supplements. The company is investigating the potential connection between their products and the adverse effects on kidneys. In addition to Kobayashi’s products, over 40 other brands containing benikoji have also been recalled.

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. Customers are advised to discontinue the use of their products and refrain from using them in the future. An 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.

Red yeast rice is known to be an alternative to statins for lowering cholesterol levels, but medical studies caution about its risks of organ damage depending on its composition. Though it is unclear if any ingredients were imported into Japan during manufacturing, this incident marks a significant recall of domestically produced health supplements in Japan.

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