Factory producing health supplements associated with 5 deaths raided by Japanese authorities

Health officials from the Japanese government conducted a raid on a factory that produces health supplements, claiming that the products have caused the deaths of five individuals and led to the hospitalization of over 100 others. The factory in question is owned by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. located in Osaka.

The raid was widely covered by Japanese TV news channels, showing officials in dark suits entering the pharmaceutical plant. The company, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, has stated that the exact cause of the illnesses, including kidney failure, is unknown. They are currently working with government health authorities to investigate the products in question.

The health supplements being produced at the factory all contain a red mold known as “benikoji.” One of the products, Benikoji Choleste Help, was marketed as assisting in reducing cholesterol levels. The company reported that approximately one million packages of these supplements were sold over the past three fiscal years.

Despite reports of health issues emerging in 2023, benikoji has been used in various products for years. Company president Akihiro Kobayashi has issued an apology for the delayed response, with a recall of the products initiated on March 22 after official medical reports were received by the company.

As of Friday, five deaths and 114 hospitalizations were reported due to the supplements. The Japanese health ministry has attributed the deaths and illnesses to the consumption of these products and warned that more individuals could be affected. This rare occurrence of deaths from a mass-produced item in Japan has prompted a review of the approval system for health products. The government aims to provide a report on the matter in May.

By Samantha Robertson

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