Food supplement scandal in Japan: two new suspicious deaths

Food supplement scandal in Japan: two new suspicious deaths

This leads to four the number of deaths in Japan suspected of having been caused by food supplements made from a type of yeast-fermented rice called “beni koji,” or red yeast rice. The Japanese pharmaceutical group Kobayashi Pharmaceutical announced this Thursday two new deaths potentially linked to these supplements.

This yeast is presented as a anticholesterol natural, but studies have also been warning for years about its potential danger: depending on its chemical composition, it can damage organs such as the liver or kidneys.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical and Japanese health authorities are also investigating more than a hundred cases of hospitalizations in Japan, potentially also linked to these food supplements. The two people whose deaths Kobayashi Pharmaceutical announced were using one of its three incriminated product lines, the company said.

“We are in the process of verifying the facts and the causal links in these cases,” continued this pharmaceutical group based in Osaka (western Japan) which last week launched a vast recall of its suspect products.

Recall of several derivative products

However, as early as January, the company had received initial reports of consumer kidney problems potentially linked to its food supplements.

“It is regrettable that Kobayashi Pharmaceutical did not provide information to the government while the company was investigating to determine the cause” of these problems, Health Minister Keizo Takemi said earlier this week.

The firm also said it had supplied red yeast rice to around fifty other companies in Japan, many of which have decided to recall various derivative products such as sparkling sake, salad dressing and paste. fermented soy (“miso”). Kobayashi Pharmaceutical also sold its yeast to two Taiwanese companies.

“Relevant ministries and agencies are working together to ensure food safety, including seeking to identify the substance causing the health damage and understanding how it got into the product,” the spokesperson added. government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi. The government has also asked other food supplement manufacturers to verify their products and is informing foreign countries about this health issue, he added.

“Once the cause is identified, the government will examine the necessary measures” to take to prevent such an affair from happening again, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promised yesterday in Parliament.

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