According to the company, a panel of experts deemed Ezeyes to be GRAS following review of extensive research and data supporting the safety of natural zeaxanthin from Chrysantis marigolds for use in food and beverage products. "With GRAS status, we have the opportunity to look at how ezeyes zeaxanthin can help maintain or improve health through use in functional foods and beverages," said Chrysantis sales and marketing manager, Phil Gowaski. Zeaxanthin is used in combination with lutein for eye health and to help prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. "Most people do not get enough zeaxanthin in their daily diets to experience the benefits," said Gowaski. Ezeyes is derived from marigolds, and Chrysantis claims it is the only natural free zeaxanthin on the market and is the same form of zeaxanthin found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Normally a marigold flower carotenoid breakdown is 80 percent lutein and 5 percent zeaxanthin. However, Chrysantis' proprietary zeaxanthin-lutein marigolds have profiles ranging from 75 percent zeaxanthin and 5 percent lutein to 50 percent zeaxanthin and 50 percent lutein. Taking lutein with zeaxathin could help more than 98,000 people retain their independence in old age over the next five years, according to a study conducted by healthcare policy research firm, the Lewin Group, and commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older, according to the National Eye Institute. The greatest risk factor is age, with people over age 60 at greater risk and people over 75 years of age have a 30 percent risk of getting AMD. Market research and statistics have time and again shown that consumers are moving more and more towards functional foods and beverages as a convenient format via which to get their daily nutrients. However, Chrysantis says it is still working with its ingredient on issues of taste-masking and flavor. The company says it will be up to the client how it uses the ingredient, but that it does not perceive consumer awareness as being strong enough yet to make it a stand alone signature ingredient in products only geared towards eye health. "It would depend on the company and how they want to promote it," Phil Gowaski, sales and marketing manager with Chrysantis, told NutraIngredients-USA. "But at the start it would most likely be an added on ingredient." As such, the new GRAS status opens up an avenue for functional food and beverage manufacturers to market products towards consumers for the support of eye health. According to the recent survey, 2007 Food & Health Survey, from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, more than 80 percent of Americans say they consume or are interested in consuming functional food and beverages,. While taste and price continue to be the biggest influence on Americans' food consumption decisions, the importance of "healthfulness" grew from 58 percent in 2006 to 65 percent in 2007, said IFIC. Research has also shown a link between zeaxanthin and cognitive function. Chrysantis indicated Ezeyes zeaxanthin will continue to play an important role for the eye health applications in dietary supplements.