Food & Agriculture
In the Food & Agriculture industry, Shellac is used to provide a protective barrier against moisture and humidity. It is commonly used in agriculture as a shiny wax coating on fruit, but can also be used to coat nuts, seeds and fertiliser. As a coating, Shellac provides a glossy sheen and effective preservative seal. It maintains internal moisture levels to minimise weight loss whilst guarding against the damaging effects of damp external conditions, helping to delay ripening and prolong shelf life. Shellac in edible form is generally recognised as safe, non-toxic, hypo-allergenic and physiologically harmless, as well as being tasteless and virtually odourless.
In Europe, Bleached Shellac and Dewaxed Bleached Shellac complies with Commission Regulation EU 231/2012 and its specification for E904 Shellac as a food additive. Shellac is approved for use as a surface treatment for certain entire fruits, namely citrus fruit, melons, apples, pears, peaches, pineapples, pomegranates, mangoes, avocados and papayas and as a glazing agent on nuts (EU 1147/2012). It can also be used on the surface of unpeeled boiled eggs (EU 675/2012). Shellac is authorised for use as a glazing agent on small products of fine bakery wares coated with chocolate; coffee beans; potato-, cereal-, flour- or starch-based snacks; and processed nuts (EU 1129/2011). Shellac can also be used as an additive in food supplements (excluding those for infants and young children) supplied in a solid form, including capsules and tablets and similar forms, or a syrup-type or chewable form (EU 1129/2011).
In the US, Shellac is included in the FDA’s list of resinous and polymeric coatings that “may be safely used as the food-contact surface of articles intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, processing, preparing, treating, packaging, transporting, or holding food” (21CFR175.300). Shellac is also included in the list of adhesives that “may be safely used as components of articles intended for use in packaging, transporting, or holding food” (21CFR175.105). Furthermore, it “may be safely used as a component of the uncoated or coated food-contact surface of paper and paperboard intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packaging, processing, preparing, treating, packing, transporting, or holding aqueous and fatty foods” (21CFR176.170). Finally, purified food grade Shellac is included in the list of diluents in colour additive mixtures for marking food, namely “inks for marking food supplements in tablet form, gum, and confectionery” (21CFR73.1).
As a natural product, the FDA permits unbleached Orange (Wax-Containing) Shellac to be included as an ingredient in processed products labelled as organic (7CFR205.606).