What US consumers should know about the supplement linked to 5 deaths in Japan

The recall of red yeast products in connection with at least five deaths in Japan could cause Americans to question the safety of a number of dietary supplements that contain the ingredient and are easily found online and in stores.

The products recalled by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. are considered a natural cholesterol-lowering agent and contain benikoji, an ingredient derived from a type of mold.

At a news conference on Friday, the company said it had found a chemical compound – puberulic acid – in the recalled products and was investigating whether the substance might be linked to the deaths, according to the Japan Times newspaper reported. Kobayashi also said its products were exported to other countries including China and Taiwan.

To date, no products containing Benikoji have been recalled or linked to health problems in the United States. In Japan, on the other hand, the problem could be due to a quality control problem that led to unwanted substances entering Kobayashi’s production line.

“Buyer beware”

Still, the scenario in Japan raises concerns for other markets, including the US, experts said.

“I think it’s likely that this particular issue also affects products outside of Japan,” said David Light, president and co-founder of Valisure, an independent laboratory that tests drugs for contaminants and is known for detecting carcinogens in products such as acne cream . Sunscreen and that Heartburn medication Zantec. He noted that supply chains for health and nutritional supplements are similar to those for prescription drugs, with products manufactured in one country and then shipped to many geographic markets.

According to Kobayashi websiteThe company is working to increase sales of six brands, including over-the-counter medicines, in the US, China and Southeast Asia. Its U.S. subsidiary, Kobayashi Healthcare in Dalton, Georgia, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“There is a place for supplements, but it is a situation where buyers must exercise caution,” said Dr. Death Cooperman,…

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