April 23, 2024

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Red Yeast Rice Scare Grips Japan: Over 114 Hospitalized and 5 Deaths

Red Yeast Rice Scare Grips Japan: Over 114 Hospitalized and 5 Deaths

Red Yeast Rice Scare Grips Japan: Over 114 Hospitalized and 5 Deaths

Tokyo, Japan – March 30, 2024 – A health scare is unfolding in Japan as authorities investigate a possible link between popular red yeast rice supplements and severe health complications, including kidney damage and even death. The focus centers on products containing “beni koj,” a red yeast used in some supplements marketed for cholesterol reduction.

The issue came to light in early March when Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co., a major Japanese drugmaker, voluntarily recalled three of its “beni koj” supplement brands after receiving reports of kidney problems from customers. These included the widely used “beni koj choleste help” supplement.

Since then, the situation has escalated rapidly. The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) has confirmed two deaths potentially linked to the supplements.

Additionally, over 114 people have been hospitalized with suspected connections to “beni koj” products. The MHLW has launched an emergency investigation, and Kobayashi Pharmaceutical is facing mounting scrutiny.

Red Yeast Rice Scare Grips Japan: Over 114 Hospitalized and 5 Deaths

screenshot from youtube

Japan: Deaths Linked to Red Yeast Rice Supplement Increased to 5

A Widening Net

The initial recall by Kobayashi only affected its own brands. However, as the investigation progresses, concerns are widening. The MHLW has ordered the recall of over 40 additional products containing “beni koj” from other companies. These products extend beyond supplements and include items like miso paste, crackers, and even a vinegar dressing.

The presence of “beni koj” in such a diverse range of products raises concerns about potential contamination and the overall safety of the ingredient. Authorities are currently investigating the source of any potential contaminants and the manufacturing processes involved.

Seeking Answers

On March 30th, health officials conducted an inspection of the Kobayashi Pharmaceutical factory in Osaka that produced the ingredients for the recalled supplements. The factory had previously shut down in December 2023. This on-site inspection aims to identify any potential issues related to manufacturing practices or contamination.

At a press conference on March 29th, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical acknowledged the severity of the situation. The company confirmed a total of five deaths potentially linked to their supplements, a significant increase from the initial reports. Additionally, over 114 hospitalizations and over 680 reports of people seeking medical attention due to concerns are now associated with their products.

The company has stated its intention to cooperate fully with the investigation and take responsibility for the matter. However, they have also revealed a potentially crucial detail. Kobayashi detected the presence of puberulic acid, a naturally occurring toxin produced by mold, in the ingredients of the supplements. The company believes this toxin might be linked to the reported health problems.

Public Anxiety and Regulatory Scrutiny

The red yeast rice scare has sent shockwaves through Japan. Many consumers who regularly used these supplements for cholesterol management are now left feeling anxious and uncertain. Public trust in dietary supplements has been shaken, and calls are growing for stricter regulations on the industry.

The MHLW is under pressure to ensure thorough investigations and implement stricter manufacturing and safety protocols for supplements. The potential long-term health effects of “beni koj” consumption are also a concern, and authorities may need to conduct further research to establish a definitive link between the ingredient and the reported illnesses.

Global Implications

While the current crisis is centered in Japan, red yeast rice supplements are sold worldwide. This incident raises questions about the safety of these products in other countries. Regulatory bodies around the globe may need to re-evaluate their testing and approval procedures for red yeast rice supplements.

Uncertain Future

The red yeast rice scare in Japan is a stark reminder of the potential dangers associated with dietary supplements. As investigations continue, the true scale of the health risks remains unclear. However, one thing is certain: consumer confidence has been shaken, and the Japanese supplement industry faces a period of significant reevaluation and reform.

“Koji Red Yeast” Substance Not Intended Is “Povuric Acid” – Cause of Health Damage? Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Provides Information to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare

In the issue surrounding Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s supplement containing “red yeast rice ingredients,” it has been revealed that the substance detected at high levels in products causing health problems was “pulvinic acid,” an unintended substance. Kobayashi Pharmaceutical has provided this information to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Regarding supplements containing “red yeast rice ingredients,” Kobayashi Pharmaceutical has stated that it cannot deny the possibility of “unknown components” in the red yeast rice ingredients being the cause of health issues.

On the 29th, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare revealed that Kobayashi Pharmaceutical had reported that an unintended substance, identified as “pulvinic acid,” was found in high levels in the lot of products causing health problems.

Pulvinic acid is a naturally occurring compound produced by blue mold, known for its antibiotic properties and high toxicity. However, its effects on the kidneys are not yet clear. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare stated that they will consider all possibilities regarding the causative substance.

Red Yeast Rice Scare Grips Japan: Over 114 Hospitalized and 5 Deaths


  • Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW): While the MHLW doesn’t have a single website for press releases, most major Japanese news outlets would have reported on their press conferences. You can find articles referencing the MHLW’s actions in outlets like:
    • Mainichi Shimbun: search for “MHLW red yeast rice”
    • Yomiuri Shimbun: search for “MHLW red yeast rice”
    • NHK News: search for “MHLW red yeast rice” (Japanese language)
  • Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Press Conference: Similar to the MHLW, press conference details can be found in Japanese news outlets. Look for articles dated March 29, 2024, referencing “Kobayashi Pharmaceutical” and “press conference.”
  • Additional Sources:

Note: These are just a few examples, and other reputable news sources may also have relevant information.

(source:internet, reference only)

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1 thought on “Red Yeast Rice Scare Grips Japan: Over 114 Hospitalized and 5 Deaths

  1. Update on April 23rd 2024:

    The Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare announced on the 3rd that the number of hospitalized individuals due to health issues related to Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s “Beni-Koji” supplement has increased by 11 from the previous day, reaching 177 people as of the 2nd, according to the company.

    The number of people who have visited medical institutions is 998. The number of consultations with the company has reached approximately 36,000.

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