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Recently I read an article by Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff regarding confectioners glaze.

Confectioners glaze is manufactured from shellac, "a glandular secretion of the lac insect, Kerria lacca, a native of India and Thailand, that lives and reproduces on the branches and twigs of its host tree." He explains that most Kashrus agencies in the USA use it based on a responsa by HaRav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal. R' Kaganoff explains that Harav Moshe bases it on four main reasons:

  1. "Any substance that an insect processes that is similar to the processing of honey is kosher."

  2. "Rav Moshe suggests that, according to the Levush, any product that is not usually referred to by an adjective identifying its source will be kosher."

  3. "'Kol hayotzei min hatamei tamei' applies only when the non-kosher animal creates food. However, when the item created is not food, the product created by a non-kosher source is considered kosher. Thus, he concludes that since shellac is tasteless, it is not considered a food, and is permitted, even though it is yotzei min hatamei."

  4. "Since shellac is not food and it is dissolved in a few times its volume of alcohol, it is therefore bateil."

Now I was reading a label of a Kosher candy which has in it "Confectioners glaze - non alcoholic". I was wondering if anyone knows how this glaze is processed, and if it is also from insect-based shellac. Even if it is from the lac insect there are still the other three reasons of Rav Moshe, however perhaps if it is non alcoholic it is manufactured from a totally different source?

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I'm not an expert on food processing, but my first guess is it's still using shellac, just the solvent is something other than alcohol. (Probably good for Muslims.) E.g. most vanilla flavors use alcohol as the solvent, but some use glycerin. In which case all of R' Moshe's reasons would apply, unless the non-alcoholic solvent presents its own kashrus concerns (as some glycerins can)! – Shalom May 3 '13 at 14:29
BTW #1 does not apply to shellac. Honey is flower nectar enzymatically processed by the bee in a special honey stomach, then regurgitated. With shellac the beetle eats tree sap, then the beetle secrets shellac from glands in its body. (Bee's wax is like shellac in this regard.) Edit: And I see he covers this in the linked article. – Ariel May 3 '13 at 19:21
up vote 6 down vote accepted

There is an alternative, corn-based product called "zein" that, according to the linked WP article at least, "may be labeled as 'confectioner's glaze.'" According to an email I received from someone in the Hashgacha industry, zein coatings, unlike shellac coatings, "generally do not contain alcohol."

I don't know if this was the product used in your candy; you may be able to determine that by contacting the manufacturer or the kosher certifying agency. But if it was, then the problem of derivation from insect sources doesn't arise.

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