Japanese Government Orders Recall of Health Supplements Containing Benikoji after Reports of Kidney-Related Complaints

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

In a surprising turn of events, the Japanese government has ordered a recall of several health supplement brands that contain the ingredient ‘benikoji,’ following reports of kidney-related complaints from customers. Two deaths and over 100 hospitalizations are believed to be linked to these supplements, which contain red yeast rice, also known as “benikoji.”

The Japanese pharmaceutical company Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, based in Osaka, is currently investigating the potential connection between their products and the adverse effects on kidneys. The ingredient Monascus purpureus, a red mold commonly used as a food coloring, is found in the recalled supplements.

In addition to Kobayashi’s products, over 40 other brands containing benikoji have also been recalled. These include 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. 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.

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 in these recalled supplements, this incident marks the first significant recall of a domestically produced health supplement in Japan. It serves as a reminder that while natural remedies can be effective in some cases

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