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Problematic ingredients found in Monascus products

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Monascus (紅麴) product manufactured by the Haoyikou International Marketing Corp., Ltd.(好易購國際行銷股份有限公司) was tested to contain an excess of Citrinin (橘黴素), which will lead to negative effects on human livers and kidneys after long-term consumption, local media reported yesterday.

The Consumers' Foundation of Chinese Taipei collected 16 samples comprised of Monascus products from supermarkets, grocery stores and drug stores in Taipei City and Taipei County last November and found one sample including more than 2 parts per million (ppm) of Citrinin, violating the existing regulation that demands Citrinin capacity to be lower than 2 ppm. The disqualified product, Natural Monascus (天然紅麴), is a bottle of capsules produced by the Haoyikou International Marketing Corp., Ltd.

Moreover, another popular Monascus product, Anka Biscuit (紅麴養生薄餅), made by the Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation, was discovered to have more than 0.4 ppm contents of Monascus. Despite a capacity lower than the legal regulation, it indicates the raw ingredients of the items have been contaminated, the foundation added.

However, the manufacturer of the cookies insisted that their products are safe.

Monascus purpureus(紅麴菌), a sort of Mycotoxin (真菌毒素), easily generates Citrinin when fermenting under less than ideal sanitary conditions or when mixed with different funguses, the foundation explained.

The foundation also provided some suggestions for the public: Monascus products should have daily recommended consumption labels to avoid overconsumption Citrinin; pregnant women are advised not to take in Monascus products as it may cause massive bleeding; high blood lipid patients should seek doctors' approval before eating any Monascus product; Monascus-contained sauces should be stored in the fridge once opened.

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