Japan’s health ministry has ordered a recall of supplements containing the ingredient “benikoji” after two deaths and more than 100 hospitalizations related to the supplements were reported. The supplements in question contain red yeast rice, or beniki, and are marketed as products that can help lower cholesterol levels.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, based in Osaka, is currently investigating a potential link between the product and kidney problems. The company has withdrawn its health supplements containing benikoji and advised users not to consume them in the future.

In addition to Kobayashi’s products, more than 40 other products from various companies containing benikoji have also been recalled. These include miso paste, crackers, and vinegar dressing. The Ministry of Health has instructed local authorities to collect information on any health damage related to these products.

Health Minister Keizo Takemi called on Kobayashi Pharmaceutical to provide information immediately and urged the public to stop using the supplements. He also emphasized the importance of avoiding products containing benikoji to prevent further health problems.

There are concerns that more victims could be reported in the coming days, especially those with pre-existing health conditions. Medical studies suggest that red yeast rice can be effective in lowering cholesterol, but there is also a risk of organ damage, depending on its composition.

The recall is the first major one involving supplements domestically produced in Japan. Although all products are made in Japan, it is not known if any of the raw materials used are imported. Authorities are urging the public to avoid products containing benikoji to prevent further health problems.

By Samantha Johnson

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