The Food Standards Agency has advised people not to eat a particular type of seaweed, hijiki, following a survey that showed that it contains high levels of a form of arsenic that is known to increase the risk of getting cancer.
The FSA said it carried out the survey to see if there was a problem with certain types of seaweed on sale in the UK, following similar findings and action taken by the Canadian authorities.
The FSA is advising people not to eat hijiki seaweed and to choose other types of seaweed instead. It said that consumers who have eaten hijiki seaweed occasionally have probably not significantly increased their risk of getting cancer, but cutting out hijiki from the diet was sensible.
The FSA added that international experts advise that the intake of this type of naturally occurring arsenic (inorganic arsenic) in food should be reduced so that it is as low as is practical.
Hijiki is a variety of seaweed harvested mainly from the seas off Japan and Korea. It is used mainly as an appetiser or starter in some Japanese and Korean restaurants, but not in sushi.