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Herbalife instructed its distributors on Saturday night to stop selling the company's "Sesame and Herb" dietary supplement in light of concerns that the product may cause liver ailments.

The directive to cease sales of the tablet, which is marketed exclusively in Israel, came after the Health Ministry informed the company some two weeks ago that in the past 18 months, eight people had developed liver problems, five of whom had used the Herbalife product. Aside from one individual who died as a result of complications unrelated to the use of the Herbalife product, the remaining patients made complete recoveries after they stopped taking the tablet and received medical care.

A joint Health Ministry and Herbalife team has been conducting a probe into the matter.

"The decision to stop marketing the product was made only two days ago because a review process had to be conducted beforehand," said Herbalife Israel CEO Yona Fichman. "As a precautionary measure toward the public of consumers, it was decided over the weekend to stop marketing the product for the meantime."

The Health Ministry announcement Saturday stressed that no causal connection had yet to be found between the Herbalife tablet and liver problems, and that the step taken by the company was merely a precautionary measure for now.

The company reported that it had ordered its 1,500 distributors around the country to stop marketing the dietary supplement, but noted that because the Herbalife products were marketed directly and couldn't be simply taken off the shelves, removing the sesame and herb product from the market was somewhat complicated.

"All the distributors received a full briefing from the company about returning the products," Fichman said. "In addition, the public was informed and we believe that all the products will be returned within a few days."