Beni-koji supplements may be linked to 76 deaths

Published: 28-Jun-2024

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s Beni-koji supplements have been implicated in the death and illness of those consuming the cholesterol-lowering supplement

More than 76 deaths have now been linked to Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s beni-koji supplements, which hit the headlines late last year for their possible role in influencing kidney disease. 

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical is currently investigating these claims to determine their validity.

What is beni-koji?

Beni-koji is an ingredient that has traditionally been used as a colourant in the food industry, and is comprised of rice fermented with Monascus purpureus, a purple-red mould that has previously claimed to enhance blood circulation and reduce cholsterol. 

It’s believed that citrinin — a substance that naturally occurs in beni-koji — has the ability to produce mycotoxins, which may have caused issues in consumers taking the supplement regularly.

Although the company originally stated that only five deaths were related to the supplement, it is currently unknown how many of these mortalities were directly caused by beni-koji. 

Issues may be associated with pre-existing conditions

According the the Japanese Society of Nephrology, a significant number of those who had experienced health problems after the intake of beni-koji had either been displaying symptoms of, or had been clinically diagnosed with Fanconi syndrome — a disease affecting the kidney’s ability to absorb electrolytes and minerals via the proximal tubule. 

Consumers who were taking the supplement have reported a change in the colour of their urine, limb swelling and fatigue. 


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