So, here I am, in the middle of a long meeting, and feeling the need for a sugar-boost. Fortunately, our little shop in the office sells a range of snacks, and wanting to be reasonably prudent, I went for the "Healthyideas" milk chocolate brazil nuts. And reading the ingredients (as you do...) I found that last, alarming, ingredient was "shellac". Now, to me, that rang a bell - something to do with varnish. And a quick check on the Encarta website, revealed:
Lac, resinous substance secreted by the lac insect upon the twigs and young branches of certain trees, the chief of which are species of fig. Lac is a product of southern Asia, particularly northern India. The term is the same as the numerical lac (or lakh), meaning 100,000, and denotes the myriad insects that swarm upon the trees. The lac insect, Laccifer lacca, is of the Coccodae superfamily (see Scale Insect). Females insert their long proboscises into the bark of the twigs or branches, drawing their foodstuff from the sap. They exude a secretion that accrues and coalesces, forming hard, resinous layers that completely cover their bodies. The ovaries contain a crimson fluid called lac dye, resembling cochineal, once used as a dye
And this is in my bag of chocolate coated nuts?
Shame I'd already eaten half the packet. But better - I've now shared the other half with others in the room. Thanks Encarta