Shellac – A Candy Ingredient Made from Bugs

Back in 2011 during an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, he showed some students some of the ingredients used in ice cream and ice cream toppings. One of those ingredients was shellac (pronounced like shelack). This ingredient is gathered from the secretions of the female lac bug. It is commonly used in candies to make them look shiny. So how does bug fluids sound on your candy? Is it worth the nice, perfect shine?

Shellac is collected from trees in Asian countries like India and Thailand. When processing this resin, it is turned into flakes. These flakes are then put dissolved in alcohol and are ready to be brushed onto things. Shellac comes in several different colors. It is most commonly known for being used to make wood shine, but as Jamie Oliver talked about on his show, it is used to make foods shiny.

Here are some food items you may find shellac in:
Candies such as jelly beans and candy corn (used as a glaze)
Apples (applied after apple is cleaned, to make it shiny)

According to the Jelly Belly’s UK site, shellac along with beeswax is used to give the beans “their final buff and polish”.

If shellac is an ingredient in a food, then the food should not be considered vegan as it contains animal by-products and most likely contains crushed up insects. If you are looking to avoid shellac, don’t buy processed foods or buy your fruit directly from a farmer you know and trust. You can also try looking for vegan candy which if it is truly vegan won’t contain shellac.

You might be asking yourself if shellac is bad for your health? We do eat honey that is made by bees, so eating something from an insect isn’t that strange. I don’t have a clear answer on whether it will harm you or not. What I am out to do with this post is share with you what is in the food you are eating, so you can make the choice yourself. Understanding where your food comes from is a part of “eating like no one else!”

Make sure to check out my post on how hair and feathers are used in some doughs

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