The joint food standards authority Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has advised consumers to avoid eating a type of seaweed called hijiki, which its says may contain high levels of naturally occurring arsenic.

This advice does not apply to other varieties of edible seaweed, such as arame, nori, kombu and wakame.

FSANZ, together with State and Territory health departments and food regulators, is asking suppliers, retailers and foodservice outlets to voluntarily withdraw hijiki seaweed from the marketplace or face a potential penalty.

Hijiki, which grows mainly in the seas off Japan and Korea, is almost black and comes in a shredded form that is mostly used as an appetiser or starter in Japanese cuisine. The seaweed also comes in a dried version, which is sometimes added to soups, salads and other dishes.

"Even though the level of naturally occurring arsenic found in hijiki is above regulatory limits, it is unlikely that past consumption of small amounts daily or occasional larger portions would have caused harm," FSANZ said.