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Visitors to Japan advised to avoid red yeast rice products

04/02/2024 03:00 PM
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Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Taipei, April 2 (CNA) Taiwanese visitors to Japan have been warned to avoid consuming red yeast rice products after a food poisoning outbreak killed five people and hospitalized more than 150.

Fan Chen-kuo (范振國), head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Taiwan-Japan Relations Association, told a news conference Tuesday that those affected by the growing health crisis all consumed Kobayashi Pharmaceutical supplements containing "beni-koji," or red yeast rice.

"Given the fact that many Taiwanese will travel to Japan during cherry blossom season, we would like to remind prospective tourists to Japan not to buy or consume products containing red yeast rice for the time being for their safety," Fan said.

Fan said the ministry has asked its representative office in Japan to closely monitor the latest updates on the case and will pass them back to Taiwanese authorities for references.

According to the Japanese health ministry, the products were found with toxic puberulic acid, a natural compound made from blue mold. It is not yet known how or when the dietary supplements were contaminated.

Puberulic acid has antibiotic properties, making it effective in fighting malaria. But its effects on the kidneys are currently unknown, the Japanese health ministry said.

Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) told at a Legislative session Monday that his ministry would provide Taiwanese consumers with information how to file compensation claims with Kobayashi Pharmaceutical next week.

According to the latest numbers released by Taiwan's health ministry, 11 people in Taiwan who consumed imported Kobayashi Pharmaceutical supplements have reported having adverse reactions.

Meanwhile, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical's Taiwan branch has asked consumers who have adverse reactions after taking their red yeast rice dietary supplements to contact the company at to receive a refund.

(By Joseph Yeh)


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