While you’re enjoying those shiny jelly beans this weekend, think about this. Many of them get their shine from shellac. What? That’s a product you put over top of paint to protect it? Yep, same stuff.
“The largest uses for shellac are for the food, drug, and cosmetics industries. Fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle of your favorite grocery store are coated with shellac and wax to make them shiny and eye-catching. In the world of cosmetics, women (and men) use shellac-based hair-spray to make themselves appear shiny and more eye-catching. Many vitamins, pills and food supplements are coated with shellac to make them slide easily down your throat, into your tummy. Of course the most important use of shellac, in my not-so-humble opinion is as a woodworking finish, where you can make your projects shiny and eye-catching.” – Sourcewww.shellac.net
Different varieties (colors) of shellac - image via Wikipedia
Wonder what it’s made from? Bugs.
Shellac is the purified product of lac, the red, hardened secretion of the insect Laccifer (Tachardia) lacca Kerr. This tiny insect sucks the sap of selected trees and bushes, and secretes lac as a protective covering. The name lac is said to derive from lakh , the Sanskrit word for one hundred thousand, a reference to the very large number of insects involved in producing appreciable amounts of the product. 1
Lac is cultivated in India, Thailand, and Burma. The whitest lac is produced by insects infesting the kusum tree ( Schleichera trijuga ). The harvester cuts twigs coated with lac into small pieces called sticklac. The crude material is ground and soaked in water to remove debris and insect bodies. The remaining material is soaked in sodium carbonate, which removes laccaic acid, a complex mixture of at least four structurally related pigments. The resulting granules retain the yellow pigment erythrolaccin and are dried to form seedlac. Further treatment by melting, evaporating, or filtering yields shellac. 2 – Source – www.drugs.com/npp/shellac.html
What is wrong with us as consumers that we’ll throw a fit and sue a company over bugs in our food, when many of the foods we eat every day are are made from, or colored by, bugs or bug byproducts! Want to enjoy some jelly beans without the bug droppings? You’ll be glad to know that Jelly Belly has publicity stated that their beans get their shininess from bees wax. If that’s more palatable, switch. If you’re still not into eating bee byproducts, switch to Vegan jellybeans. They’re completely bug & animal free! Google vegan candy and check out the huge array of candies available (it will also give you an insight into all of the “standard” candies that have bugs for coloring and coatings out there – yuck!).
This is the 2nd in a series of Disgusting Food Additive posts.