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Shellac is a resin secreted by female lac beetle on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. Laccifer lacca (the insect from which shellac is obtained) resembles an apple seed in size and color. Shellac is a brittle or granular secretion of this insect. It is found in certain forests of India and Thailand, and the sticky residue that the female beetle leaves on the tree trunk is removed from the bark. Its use has a period of 3000 years. Before the 20th century, shellac, was used to obtain durable and beautifully coloured surfaces on wooden furniture.

From the 20th century onwards; vitamins, pharmaceuticals, candies, chocolate and even some fruits are the “favourite” products of many people and shellac is used as a polish on their surfaces. Shellac is the resinous secretion of an insect known as Coccus Lacca. It is indicated by the symbol E904 in the lists of additives. On the labels, sugar gloss is expressed as a polishing agent. The main use of shellac in confectionery is the coating of chocolate products. For example, shellac is used in chocolate-coated hazelnuts, grapes, food supplements, medicines, fruits, and coffee beans.

Shellac is soluble in alkalis such as ammonia, sodium borate, sodium carbonate and sodium hydroxide and in various organic solvents. When dissolved in alcohol, it typically forms a tough, hard layer with ethanol and methanol, which provides the shine used in furniture.

Shellac comes in many warm colours from very light yellow to very dark brown, with lots of browns, yellows, oranges and reds in between. Color is affected by the sap of the tree in which the lac beetle lives and by the time of harvest.

To produce 1 kg of shellac, 300,000 lac beetles must be killed, and the annual production is estimated to be 20,000 tons. The main importers of shellac are Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, and the USA.

Shellac is also used as a coating in tablets and capsules. Shellac is also used especially in drugs that are required to dissolve after a certain period, that is, drugs that do not show their effect as soon as they are taken orally but show their effect after a certain period of time, for example two hours or three hours.

GIMDES does not allow the use of such insect-derived additives in Halal certified productions.

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