TOKYO (NEWSnet/AP) — Five people who took a Japanese health supplement have died and more than 100 have been hospitalized as of Friday, officials said.

Osaka-based Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. came under fire for not going public quickly with problems known internally as early as January. The first public announcement came March 22.

Earlier in the week, the number of deaths stood at two people. Company officials updated the number of dead to five Friday, and said 114 people were being treated in hospitals after taking products — including Benikoji Choleste Help meant to lower cholesterol — that contain an ingredient called benikoji, a red species of mold.

Some people developed kidney problems after taking the supplements, but the exact cause was still under investigation, according to the manufacturer.

The company’s products have been recalled — as have dozens of other products that contain benikoji, including miso paste, crackers and a vinegar dressing. Japan’s health ministry put up a list on its official site of all the recalled products, including some that use benikoji for food coloring.

The ministry warned the deaths could keep growing. The supplements could be bought at drug stores without a prescription from a doctor, and some may have been purchased or exported before the recall, including by tourists who may not be aware of the health risks.

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