Food & Agriculture

Food industryIn 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. 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 0675/2012]. Shellac is authorised for use as a glazing agent on cocoa and chocolate products; other confectionery including breath refreshening microsweets; chewing gum; decorations, coatings and fillings except fruit-based fillings; potato-, cereal-, flour- or starch-based snacks; and processed nuts; small products of fine bakery wares coated with chocolate; and coffee beans [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, food grade Shellac is included in the list of “Diluents in color additive mixtures for marking food", namely “Inks for marking food supplements in tablet form, gum, and confectionery” [21CFR73.1]. Finally, Orange Shellac-Unbleached (CAS # 9000-59-3) is included in the list of “Nonorganically produced agricultural products allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic”. [7CFR205.606].

Shellac is also listed in the Codex Alimentarius, which governs international food standards. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), an international expert scientific committee that is administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), has produced a specification for Shellac as a food additive, INS 904. The applications for which Shellac is approved is listed hereThe Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) classification is "Acceptable, present uses (as a coating, glazing, and surface-finishing agent externally applied to food) not of toxicological concern". 

A.F. Suter is a leading UK supplier, retailer, wholesaler, distributor, importer and exporter of high quality Shellac, Waxes, Natural Gums, Resins, Menthol Crystals and Zein.

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