Government mulling quicker reports of health problems in food

By Published On: April 11, 20241.2 min readViews: 1440 Comments on Government mulling quicker reports of health problems in food

Alarmed at the benikoji health scare, government officials are considering updating food safety and labeling laws to require companies to promptly report health problems caused by their food products.

At least five people have died as a result of ingesting Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.’s dietary supplements made from benikoji, a red yeast.

These products included “Benikoji coleste-help,” which was touted to lower cholesterol levels.

However, the Osaka-based company did not report these health problems to the central government for about two months.

Government officials believe the problem likely wouldn’t have spread if the company had promptly notified the authorities.

According to several government sources, the Food Sanitation Law may be revised to require companies to file reports with the central government when health problems arise.

Currently, the law only “encourages” companies to report such problems to the prefectural governor.

Officials are also considering changing the Food Labeling Law because the Kobayashi Pharmaceutical supplements were sold as foods with function claims (FFC) under the provisions of that law.

The law currently allows companies to label products claiming they have certain functions if those products meet the law’s food labeling standards.

The system was established in 2015 under then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose administration included FCC products as part of its economic growth strategy.

The government is now also considering requiring companies that sell FCC products to promptly report any health problems that arise in their customers.


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