Probably more often than you think. Did you know that most candy coatings are actually made out from secretions that came out of a bug?
The stuff on your candy coatings is known as Shellac, an ingredient that is used in many candies, pharmaceuticals, and industries. Technically Shellac is recognized as GRAS under the FDA or Generally Recognized as Safe for human consumption.
Many people are shocked and a little disgusted when they find out that the source of shellac is from the rear end of a beetle like bug. The other name for shellac, confectioner’s glaze, sounds much sweeter than dried beetle juice.
Where Is Shellac Used?
Shellac, in one or more of its various forms, (bleached, dewaxed, etc.), may be found in a wide variety of products including furniture polish and varnish; aluminum foil coating; paper coating; hairspray, shampoos, perfume, mascara and lipstick; printing inks and paints; pharmaceutical tablets; and agricultural fertilizer (slow-release coating for urea)
In foods, shellac is most commonly used as a coating or glaze on confections, chewing gum, fruit, and coffee beans. Lac dye, (another insect product) may be used as coloring in foods and beverages.
What Foods Contain Shellac
As a general rule, any hard-coated, shiny candy contains a shellac coating or glaze (M&Ms™ is one exception.) Shellac may appear on the label under different names. The two most common ones in use today are “resinous glaze” or “confectioner’s glaze.” In general, all Easter candy (eggs and jelly beans) are coated. Halloween candy (candy corn) is as well.
Other Confections Containing Shellac:
• 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.
• Gertrude Hawk’s chocolate-covered nuts & 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)
Shellac Has Many Other Uses
Shellac, is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze and wood finish. Shellac functions as a tough all-natural primer, sanding sealant, tannin-blocker, odor-blocker, stain, and high-gloss varnish. Shellac was once used in electrical applications as it possesses good insulation qualities and it seals out moisture.
Shellac is often the only historically appropriate finish for early 20th-century hardwood floors, and wooden wall and ceiling paneling. It was also often used on kitchen cabinets and hardwood floors, prior to the advent of polyurethane.
Shellac was used from mid-19th century to produce small molded goods like picture frames, boxes, toilet articles, jewelry, inkwells and even dentures. In dental technology, it is still occasionally used in the production of custom impression trays and denture production.
Shellac is used by many cyclists as a protective and decorative coating for their handlebar tape.
Orange shellac is also the preferred adhesive for reattaching ink sacs when restoring vintage fountain pens. It has always been the preferred hot-melt adhesive for fixing leather saxophone pads into their metal key-cups.
Sheets of Braille were coated with shellac to help protect them from wear due to being read by hand. Shellac was historically used as a protective coating on paintings.
Because of its alkaline properties, shellac-coated pills may be used for a timed enteric or colonic release. It is also used to replace the natural wax of the apple, which is removed during the cleaning process.
It takes about 100,000 lac bugs to make 500 g of shellac flakes. This means that every time you eat those sweet candies you are really consuming parts from thousands of beetles.
The ‘nugget’ isn’t a chicken part
Hot dogs have a reputation for being made from the parts of the cow there's no way you'd eat (and that's probably true), but the chicken nugget should be the go-to example of gross meat products. Nuggets are made from "meat slurry," a liquefied meat product which is as appetizing as it sounds, and are then molded into the familiar shapes we all know. You could say it's an efficient way of using the whole chicken. You could also say it's totally gross.
Meat is treated with carbon monoxide to make it look fresh
When you pick out that nice red steak at the grocery store, you're choosing it because it looks fresh, but will it taste as fresh? It's hard to know because a lot of meat is treated with carbon monoxide to keep it from turning color. That doesn't mean the meat is bad, but it does mean that it's not as fresh as you'd been led to believe.
1 in 4 meat samples is tainted with drug resistant bacteria
All food has some bacteria on it, but because of over-reliance on antibiotics in feedlots, livestock have developed a number of drug resistant strains of common diseases like staph infections. What's disturbing is that, according to NPR, a recent survey of meat in grocery stores found 1 in 4 samples contained these drug resistant bacteria. Learn more on NPR.com
A lot of meat that makes it to the supermarket comes from sick animals
As mentioned in the previous slide, the meat industry has become reliant on antibiotics. The reason? Poor diet and living conditions mean that many animals that make it on to our table were really sick. For example, 13 percent of feedlot cattle have abscessed livers.
Pubic hairs in fast food?
This one is kind of dicey. You see all over the internet (or you do if part of your job is finding out gross things about food) that the average fast food patron consumes 12 pubic hairs in a year, but no one seems to have a source. So maybe it's not true, but as someone who worked in fast food in high school, let me say that given the people I worked with, their attitudes toward sanitation, and their attitudes toward the customers, it would not surprise me in the least if this were true.
Castoreum, a common additive, is made from beaver anal glands
Castoreum is an extract that shows up in baked goods, especially as vanilla flavoring. Delicious!
Salmon dye may be damaging your eyes
Wild salmon gets its distinctive pink color from its krill-based diet. Farm raised salmon, without access to krill, is not actually pink—rather, it's gray. Since no one wants to eat gray salmon, fisheries give the salmon a color boost by using artificial dyes in their feed. One such chemical, Canthaxanthin, has been linked to retinal damage in humans. Dyed salmon should be labeled as such in stores, but this law is poorly enforced. Ask your fishmonger to be sure.
our bread may contain an ingredient derived from human hair
L-cysteine, an amino acid, is a common ingredient used as a processing aid in bread products. The main sources for the manufacture of this additive are human hair and duck feathers. Yum!
Your salad dressing might have the heavy metal titanium dioxide in it
Titanium dioxide belongs in your paint and sunscreen not your food. Food manufacturers add it to things like salad dressing, creamers, and icing to make them appear whiter.
1 can of Coca Cola contains 10 teaspoons of sugar
This is more than an entire day’s RDA. This list has focused on things we might not know are in our food, and most of them are only vaguely harmful. But sugar pops up in most processed foods, and we know it's bad for us. Linked to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, the amount of sugar in processed foods isn't just gross, it's making us sick.