Okay, true confession, every now and then I don’t read the labels and I bring home a special “treat” from the grocery store. We eat very clean and I think it’s okay to relax a bit every now and then. I pulled out the Cappuccino Gelato (Hyvee Brand) from my freezer and thoroughly enjoyed a small bowl. It says right on the front of the carton that it is imported from Italy, so it’s exotic and going to be divine. I had no intention of reading the label and just wanted to indulge. However, my husband immediately sits down and proceeds to read off the list.
So it’s got that fun “new” Glucose Syrup ingredient which is the made up name to hide High Fructose Corn Syrup, so that is disappointing. The list of items aren’t sounding terrible after that one. Until he gets to the coated coffee bean pralines that include the ingredient Shellac. I think he’s pulling my leg but there it is right on the label. They didn’t even use one of the made up names they use for shellac such as “confectioner’s glaze” or “resinous glaze.” They just went ahead and admitted they put furniture polish in my dessert.
I’m none too happy at this point. I’m now imagining cans of shellac/polyurethane straight off the hardware store shelf being used to dip the toxic pralines in. My ever resourceful husband, who thinks he is being helpful, does a quick google search on shellac in foods and it gets uglier from here. I discovered I had just had Italian Gelato with a side of bug poop and squashed bug parts. Okay, they use the word excrement because that sounds so sophisticated but we know what they mean. So now my husband and his friend are laughing hysterically at my expense and begin describing how these poor children in some foreign land are forced to hold the bugs over the ice cream to get them to poop in my ice cream.
Shellac is a coating or glaze derived from the hardened, resinous material secreted by the lac insect. Shellac in the raw is known as lac resin and is produced mostly in Southeast Asia. It is estimated that 300,000 lac insects are killed for every 2 pounds of lac resin made. Approximately 25% of all unrefined, lac resin is composed of “insect debris” and other impurities according to the Shellac Export Promotion Council (Yeah that’s a real organization for proper regulation of bug poop).
If you’ve ever eaten candy that’s shiny, you’ve most definitely eaten the poop from the Kerria lacca bug. Nice job but at least you know that I know how you feel.
But no worries folks because our friendly FDA gives Shellac a thumbs up with a GRAS status which means that it is generally recognized as safe in foods. Confectioner’s glaze, the name often used for shellac by candy makers, is composed of approximately 35% shellac.
I know you are wondering (just like I was at this point) which candies are coated with shellac? The Vegetarian Resource Group conducted an investigation into this and came up with a partial list besides our favorite Halloween candy corn:
• Hershey’s Whopper’s Malted Milk Balls™
• Hershey’s Milk Duds™
• Nestle’s Raisinettes™
• Nestle’s Goober’s™
• Tootsie Roll Industry’s Junior Mints™ (NOT Tootsie Rolls)
• Tootsie Roll Industry’s Sugar Babies™
• Jelly Belly™ jelly beans, mint crèmes
• Godiva’s™ Dark Chocolate Almond Bar; Dark Chocolate Cherries; Milk Chocolate Cashews; White Chocolate Pearls; Milk Chocolate Pearls. (This is a partial list; consult with Godiva about specific items.)
• Gertrude Hawk’s™ chocolate-covered nuts and raisins; cupcake sprinkles; decorative cake pieces
• Russell Stover’s™ jelly beans; NOT in their chocolate-covered cherries or mint patties
• Skittles™ and Starburst™: no shellac, but they do contain gelatin (an animal-derived ingredient)
Interesting side note: Shellac is also used as a pharmaceutical glaze to coat capsules, particularly in time-released or delayed-action pills as not surprisingly it stops the pill from breaking down in the stomach!
I’m sorry if I ruined anyone’s day.
Sandy Duncan is completing her Doctorate in Integrative Medicine, a health and wellness coach, Certified Neurofeedback specialist and author of AllNaturalHealthReviews.org. Read honest reviews on current health and wellness products as well as register for FREE giveaways.
The Vegetarian Resource Blog http://www.vrg.org/blog