Health Supplements Linked to at Least 5 Deaths

Health Supplements Linked to at Least 5 Deaths

( – Health officials from the government of Japan inspected a health supplement factory in Osaka on March 31, which may have contributed to five deaths and over 100 hospitalizations. Authorities had investigated another factory just one day earlier that also produced the same supplement.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. operates factories that use ‘Beni-Koji’, a material of red yeast used in food coloring. The company marketed this supplement to help lower cholesterol levels. Kobayashi said that they discovered what may be a virulent puberulic acid. They believe it may have been created by the Blue Mold Penicillium that is in Beni-Koji. The factory produced it from April to October of last year.

Confirmation that the deaths were caused by Beni-Koji, according to the Health and Welfare Ministry in Japan. However, due to the inspections of two plants in as many days, they believe it is a likely suspect.

Kobayashi stated that they are cooperating fully with any investigation, as they already suspected the link when they heard reports that kidney disease was the issue in one case. They started to recall the product on March 22, two months after suspecting the link. Yuko Tomiyama, the head of investor relations for Kobayashi, said to reporters on March 31 that they must resolve whatever issues they find as soon as possible.

The Japanese government accused Kobayashi of delaying the announcement of the impact on people’s health regarding the use of their product.

Many countries sell both the supplement and the product, Beni-Koji. Fifty-two companies have purchased Beni-Koji, who then sold it to over 170 other companies. On March 29, the Japanese media reported that fifty-two companies made inspections voluntarily, which resulted in none of the materials needing consultation by the medical field.

The investigations are focused on products that use Beni-Koji. Kobayashi’s product is Benikoji Choleste Help. The company reported selling nearly a million products in the three previous years. The instances of health problems only started in 2023.

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