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From: Jo Stepaniak (
Subject: Re: lac resin
Date: October 28, 2009 at 8:55 am PST

In Reply to: lac resin posted by Silvia on October 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm:

Here is a bit of what I found online: "Shellac or lac resin is a product that is imported from India and is used in waxes for citrus fruits, apples and pears. It is a product that is derived from the secretions of the tiny lac insect. The lac insect secretes "lac-resin" from its glands onto a host tree. The resin is then gathered, crushed, sieved, washed and purified into food grade shellac."

It is almost impossible to know what type of wax or coating is used in commercial or even organic produce unless you know the farmer or grow the food yourself. Food wax is an issue for vegans, but it is not an easy one to solve or address because it is so pervasive and the type of coating used on food is not required to be listed on it. The only practical away around it, if it is a concern for you, is to peel the item so you do not ingest the wax. You can also try using a mild detergent on the produce, but I don't know if it would remove the wax.

Many candy coatings are indeed lac based. It is what gives the candy a crisp, almost invisible outer layer. The best way to avoid it is to purchase candy from reputable sources that advertise it as vegan. Pill coatings and binders are usually not vegan (they often contain whey, for example, in small amounts, or are coated with lac). There are more pressing issues regarding the pharmaceutical industry, though (such as animal testing). All in all, if you can avoid medications (and candy), all the better. Alternatively, you can seek out products that you know with certainty are vegan.

This is a complex matter, Silvia, and there is no quick and simple solution. From my perspective, it is not the most important issue facing vegans. That is not to minimize it, but rather to put it into perspective with the other monumental tasks we have.


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