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Monday, May 20, 2024

Japanese drugmaker recalls red yeast rice supplements as 1 death reported

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 Japanese drugmaker Kobayashi Pharmaceutical on Tuesday disclosed that one person has died after taking their supplement product containing “beni-koji,” or red yeast rice, raising concerns about potential health hazards associated with the ingredient.

The deceased, who suffered kidney damage, is believed to have consumed a supplement product containing yeast-fermented rice produced by the company for approximately three years, according to the latest announcement of the company, which is currently investigating the link between their product and the reported fatality while urging consumers to cease the use of the affected products.

The announcement came amidst a series of health issues reported by individuals who have consumed health foods containing beni-koji ingredients similar to those found in Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s products.

The voluntary recall of products containing Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s beni-koji as an ingredient has now expanded nationwide, affecting various food items and seasonings, as the latest reports showed that the company had supplied this ingredient to 52 food manufacturers, including some wholesalers, suggesting that the actual number of affected companies could be even higher.

With applications ranging from coloring to flavor enhancement, yeast-fermented rice is commonly incorporated into a wide array of products.

The Osaka-based pharmaceutical revealed last Friday that individuals who had consumed their beni-koji supplements manufactured in-house had been diagnosed with kidney disorders. They also acknowledged distributing the same ingredient to external entities and requested these suppliers to implement voluntary recalls.

The number of people hospitalized has risen to 26 over health damage after ingesting related supplement products as of Monday, according to the company.

The Osaka-based pharmaceutical giant reported six hospitalized cases of kidney damage and other health problems following intake of the yeast-fermented rice products last Friday, raising fears of health risks associated with the product.

As of Tuesday, recalls have been announced by multiple food manufacturers, including a local miso paste producer, a tofu product maker, and a Japanese sake maker.

Out of the 18.5 tons of beni-koji raw material manufactured by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical in 2023, approximately 16.1 tons were sold to external parties. The company is currently considering compensation for the affected suppliers who have been asked to conduct voluntary recalls, according to local media reports.

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