New Deaths in Japan Linked to Food Supplement Scandal

Japanese company “Kobayashi Pharmaceutical” announced on Thursday two new deaths possibly linked to the consumption of dietary supplements produced by the company, which have been at the center of a growing scandal in recent days.

This brings the total number of deaths attributed to these dietary supplements, which contain a type of fermented yeast rice called “Red Yeast Rice” or “Beni Koji,” to four.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), this rice has been marketed as lowering natural cholesterol levels in the blood, but studies have warned for years about the potential risks, as its chemical composition could lead to liver and kidney problems.

“Kobayashi Pharmaceutical” and the Japanese Ministry of Health are investigating over a hundred cases of illness suspected to be linked to these dietary supplements.

The company stated in its announcement that the two individuals whose deaths were reported on Thursday had been using one of the three groups of suspected harmful dietary supplements.

It noted that it had supplied red yeast rice to two companies in Taiwan and 50 other companies in Japan, many of which have announced recalls of various derived products such as sparkling sake drinks, salad dressings, and fermented soybean paste “Miso.”

Government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi stated on Thursday, “The relevant ministries and agencies are working together to ensure food safety, aiming to identify the substance causing health damage and understand how it exists in the product.”

Hayashi added during a press conference that the government has also requested other manufacturers of dietary supplements to verify their products and is working to inform foreign countries about this health issue.

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