Red yeast rice supplements linked with deaths in Japan not marketed in Singapore: HSA

Red yeast rice supplements linked with deaths in Japan not marketed in Singapore: HSA

SINGAPORE: The three health supplements that are linked to five deaths and over 100 hospitalisations in Japan are “not marketed” in Singapore, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Sunday (Mar 31).

In response to CNA’s queries, HSA said it has confirmed with Kobayashi Pharmaceutical (Singapore) that its three health supplements that contain “beni koji”, or red yeast rice, that were recalled in Japan on Mar 22 are not sold in stores or official websites in Singapore.

The three supplements are Red Yeast Rice Cholesterol, Nattokinase Smooth Grain GOLD and Naishi Help + Cholesterol.

“Based on preliminary information, the affected products marketed in Japan were recalled due to the presence of unintended ingredients, which were suspected to be associated with kidney problems in consumers who consumed these affected products,” said HSA.

“Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Japan is currently investigating the matter.”

Osaka-based Kobayashi said that it found what appeared to be potentially toxic puberulic acid that could have been produced by blue mould penicillium in beni koji rice produced between last April and October at the Osaka factory.

As of Mar 29, five people have died and 114 people had been hospitalised in Japan after taking the supplements, which were marketed as helping lower cholesterol levels, the company said.

The cause of the deaths has not been confirmed, an official from Japan’s Health and Welfare Ministry told Reuters.

But “it is suspected that beni koji may be the cause, so we have inspected two factories in two days”.

Kobayashi said on Mar 29 it was investigating a suspected link between the products and their effects on the kidney since it received reports of kidney disease linked to the products.