The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has requested public comments on a novel foods application submitted by a Swiss company seeking permission to use algal oil in its food products.

The company suggests in its application that the oil, extracted from a newly isolated strain of microalgae, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid and proposes to use it as a source of the fatty acid in infant formula. The omega-3 fatty acid currently used in infant formula is derived from tuna fish oil or the microalgae, Crypthecodinium cohnii.

FSA has also requested public comments on a second application, submitted by Unilever, seeking permission to extend the use of phytosterol esters. Used in the food industry for their cholesterol-lowering properties, phytosterol esters are naturally present at low levels in vegetable oils. This is the third application made by the Unilever for this ingredient. An application for margarines with added phytosterol esters was approved in 2000, and an application to extend use to “milk type” and “yoghurt type” products was authorized in 2004. Unilever now seeks to extend phytosterol esters’ use in margarines to include cooking, baking and liquid margarine products. FSA will accept comments on both applications until February 28, 2014.