Shellac use on fruit in UK Supermarkets

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Many vegans may not be aware that the shine on some of your favourite fruits may actually be made from shellac: a resin from the secretions of the female lac insect. The food additive is also known as E904 and is used to keep the fruit longer and gives it a shiny protective coating. I also understand that Innocent smoothies are not labelled as being suitable for vegans as they might contain shellac.  Some orange juices are also not vegan for this reason. Shellac is also used on sweets, nail products and many other uses. So if you see E904 or shellac you know to avoid it and if something looks shiny try to find out what wax made it that way.
So I have been contacting supermarkets and trying to find out if they use shellac on any of the fruit and with the help of information obtained from others that have also wrote and got a reply this is the summary so far.

Aldi say they are only able to give this information by single product in a named store as they don't use the same supplier for each store.

We can confirm that the only fruits that could contain post harvest treatments which carry a very small amount of shellac are citrus fruits. This is common in the industry at present, and our business is working with overseas suppliers and post harvest treatment companies ongoing to try and find an alternative which does not contain shellac.

I can confirm that shellac waxes are used by some of our suppliers for the waxing of citrus fruits and apples (apples from USA only).

Use it on all citrus fruit, but not other fresh products. They sell unwaxed oranges and lemons, but not unwaxed other citrus such as kumquats, satsuma's etc.

They don't currently use it on fruit or veg I am told, but i have seen that other people have had different answers and advised to check the boxes that they are displayed in to see which wax is being use. If its says E904 you know its shellac.

Shellac is part of some fruit waxes which is currently used on our own brand citrus fruit and avocados.

No answer yet from other supermarkets. If anyone knows anymore info, please let us know.


  1. Is this an up to date list?

  2. There has been no update to this article since it was published in April 2014. The other supermarkets did not get back to me.

  3. Nail products? Which? I know that Shellac Nail Varnish is just a brand name and doesn't have real shellac. Are you saying others do?

    1. I don't know which brands have shellac in I'm afraid. There are quite a few vegan brands about, even in Sainsbury's and Poundland.

    2. Shellac nail polish most certainly does contain shellac. I work in the industry.

  4. i've had an update that the vegetable situation is the same with sainsburys. aldi say they are only able to give this information by single product in a named store so i will be voting to shop elsewhere.

  5. So, Do you guys ever drive cars? This is a serious question. I wonder how it fits with being vegan. So not only does the act of speeding along kill many insects, but the oil industry in general kills so much more. pollution, loss of habitat, etc. If you are worried about harvesting the Lac bug to make shellac, how does using plastic and driving fit into your ability to be vegan. I have tried to be vegan, but instead, now, I just try to be as conscious that my life isn't a burden on the planet.