The Shocking Truth About Jelly Beans

The Shocking Truth About Jelly Beans

Jelly beans, a favorite Easter candy. But when you find out what’s actually in jelly beans, you may not want to eat them anymore.

The Shocking Truth About Jelly Beans

Jelly beans are coated with shellac to make them shiny. Shellac, also known as pharamceutical glaze or confectioner’s glaze, is recognized as GRAS under the FDA or Generally Recognized As Safe for human consumption. But just because it’s safe, doesn’t mean you want to eat it.

The disgusting fact is that shellac, used on jelly beans, is made from the excrement of beetles. In other words, beetle dung, or bug poop.

How Shellac Is Made

The female lac bug, Kerria lacca, found in the forests of India and Thailand, secretes excrement (poop), which forms a tunnel-like tube on the branches of trees. These tunnels referred to as cocoons, although they are not really cocoons. The insects live off of the sap of the tree and excrete the dung onto the tree.

The Shocking Truth About Jelly Beans

The beetle dung is scraped from the tree branches and heated. The raw shellac, which contains bark shavings and lac bug parts, begins to liquefy, and the bark and bug bits are strained out. The sticky shellac is then dried into a flat sheet and broken up into flakes, then bagged and sold. The dried shellac is then mixed with denatured alcohol in order to dissolve the flakes and make liquid shellac.

Where Is Shellac Used?

Shellac is used in the manufacture of a number of products including furniture polish and varnish; aluminum foil; lipstick, hairspray, shampoos, mascara and perfume; printing ink and paints; pharmaceutical tablets; and agricultural fertilizer.

In foods, shellac is most commonly used as a coating or glaze on confections, chewing gum, and coffee beans, as well as some fruits including apples.

Candies (Other Than Jelly Beans) That Contain Shellac

As a general rule, all hard-coated, shiny candies contains a shellac coating or glaze. M&Ms™ is one exception — they do not contain shellac.

  • Hershey’s Whopper’s Malted Milk Balls™
  • Hershey’s Milk Duds™
  • Nestle’s Raisinettes™
  • Nestle’s Goober’s™
  • Junior Mints™
  • Sugar Babies™
  • Godiva’s™ Dark Chocolate Almond Bar; Dark Chocolate Cherries; Milk Chocolate Cashews; White Chocolate Pearls; Milk Chocolate Pearls
  • Halloween candy corn

Share the this post by clicking the buttons below.


Village Green is the #1 healthy living online media network, connecting brands, influencers & consumers to make the world a healthier place.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: We may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website.


        • Jackie says

          Actually Wikipedia is very accurate the vast majority of the time. Often, the inaccuracies are due to “hacking” where someone falsely puts information in as a prank or for other motivations, such as political or religious. A great majority of these are actually written by experts in the field who feel that these are important. I, along with quite a few other college professors, regularly create and edit pages in our fields.

          • jellybeaneater says

            Wikipedia is wrong often, and not due to hackers. An example: look up “cheddar.” The British writer of the article on cheddar wrote a clearly opinionated article. He feels that cheddar should not contain annatto (a natural spice added to give cheddar a nutty sweet flavor) and thus the writer of the article refers to this natural spice added for flavor as being an artificial food coloring. He is ignorant, and thus he puts his ignorance into the article, and when someone tries to correct it, he changes it back, protecting his ignorant and opinionated article. Just one of thousands of examples of why Wikipedia is a joke.

        • Jackie says

          If you would like more scientific information, here is a book to check out:

          Chemical Aspects of Drug Delivery Systems, by Karsa and Stephenson

          The book deals with drug delivery, but it is the same type used in food.

        • yasir says

          On wiki any one can “CHANGE” it so its not that accurate but realize the site can be changed by any one but you can use your common sense.OH YEAH AND U FEEL SALTY!

        • yasir says

          On wiki any one can “CHANGE” it so its not that accurate but realize the site can be changed by any one but you can use your common sense.OH YEAH AND U FEEL SALTY!

    • says

      EVERYTHING we eat will eventually kill us so enjoy a little life!!! You would have to consume thousands of jelly beans at one setting for them to be “harmful” enough to hurt us!!! Seriously!!!

      • TheHumbleFungus says

        What you eat shouldn’t eventually kill, your telomeres should. But yeah life’s short get fat yadda yadda. By the way does anyone actually care about this? I mean look at the millions of products sold with actual bug limbs, eggs, undeveloped larvae, rat feces/parts etc. As long as it tastes good and doesn’t pose a health risk don’t be such a child.

  1. Nancy Garner says

    Urgghh! I will never eat them again! Thanks for the heads up!!!! Please tell me we can still have peeps. I prefer chocolate anyway!

    • stephanie says

      Nancy, peeps don’t have shellac, but they DO have gelatin, which is made with animal hooves, tendons, and bones (basically scrap from slaughterhouses). Gross!

    • Ronald Wheeler says

      It really is amazing how much chocolate has replaced the males good times. Stimulates the same part of the female brain as their whizzer. Good name for a new chocolate bar.

    • TheHumbleFungus says

      You do know there are vermin parts in just about everything you eat, including and especially chocolate. That’s why you listen to expiration dates (Chocolate Turtles especially), lest the larvae hatch and you get a moth bar.

  2. Heather Lai says

    Aside from cultural aversion towards bugs and poop, what is the problem? We’ve got dozens of environmental and health organizations, even the UN trying to convince the western world to adopt insects as a regular food source. Do you imagine that the internal organs of those insects are being dissected out before consumption, like a cow or pig? We are eating bug poop if we are eating insects in general, in fact we are already eating bug poop every time we eat cooked shrimp that were not “deveined” before cooking. Seeing as shrimp, lobsters and crabs are genetically aquatic forms bugs. Would you prefer some sort of food grade plastic out artificial wax instead of shellac, which according to you, is a completely naturally occurring substance?

  3. says

    I was bracing myself for an article about a nasty genetically modified corn product mixed with some crazy artificial petroleum substance. This isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

  4. Eddie says

    Jelly beans have been consumed for decades and it is not like this is NEW information!! Do you want to see what other “disgusting things” you have been consuming throughout your life??,,20588763,00.html

    I just have to laugh at how “surprised” some people are about what is in items made for consumption. *smh*

  5. says

    Jelly beans are made with water, sugar, glucose, gelatine, artificial flavouring agents and food colouring.
    Once cured overnight, the beans are coated in coating pans with syrup. The syrup is plain sugar dissolved in hat water, with food colouring added.
    Red colour for red beans, green for green beans etcetera.
    I do not promote the eating of jelly beans or any other candy because of the ingredients. Sugar is bad for the body, gelatine is made from dead animals. I am a vegan!
    Colouring and flavouring are harm full chemicals.
    Eating fresh fruit and veggies is best for the body!

    • Ronald Wheeler says

      Welcome to Earth. Just where is this planet Vegan???? Hear about it all the time. Must be my bed time, huh!

    • JonD says

      Sugar is not bad for the body in correct increments. It is a very important part of the food pyramid and your body needs sugar for a few organ functuons… your just as likely to become a diabetic from the conplete lack of sugars in the diets as with too much. Like everything else. Consume in moderation.

      As well. Humans have survived off insects for a long time. In fact in quite a few countries. Insects like grasshoppers, ants, spiders, ect are a delicacy. Aside from some parasites or poisonous sacs(like any other naturally occuring food both vegan and nonvegan) contain much the same risks if prepared half hazardly.

    • JonD says

      Fetal cells contain building protiens that when cultured take on the same genetic code of a source material it is in contact with. In essance it may have come from fetal cells, but they arent anymore… thats like saying that taking a lymph node to check for the spread of breast cancer is immoral and wrong because its the same one you had as a baby. Yes its the same one, but it isnt the same as it was

  6. Claudia says

    Years ago I went to a holistic MD for allergy testing. He said he didn’t test for allergy to chocolate, because it was not the cacao bean people were allergic to, it was the cockroaches that get ground up with the beans during processing that people react to. He assumed by telling us that fact, we wouldn’t want to eat chocolate. Sadly, it didn’t stop me :)

  7. l says

    Wikipedia is not a source you can reference you can cite in research. It is a wiki that is set ip to share about different topics
    Thst is why it is not deamed reliable. Anyone can add to it not just hackers. You can however check their sources. It is a great starting place when you are not familiar with a topic. It must not be cited.

    • this guy says

      A quick search to find some information about the accuracy yields (wikipedias page about wikipedias accuracy, first hit on google… :P). in reality, wikipedia is overall very reliable and the reasons for not being allowed to cite it in research are more closely related to how the content is generated.

      Also I think you meant “This” and “deemed”

  8. Sophie Biggens says

    The description of what shellac is and where it comes from, is accurate. Shellac has been used as a furniture finish for thousands of years.. Whether it is used in candy making is debatable.

  9. Elizabeth says

    Y’all are just silly. Many things we consume have to do with things we’d prefer to not think about. Honey is made from bee vomit. Pills taken for menopause are made from pregnant mare urine. Compost for organic produce is largely composed of decayed fecal matter from all sorts of animals….it’s all in how you look at it, or don’t, really.

    If you like it and it’s not gonna kill you, eat it in moderation. If bug poop bothers you that much… have ALOT more research ahead of you, tiger.

    Or is it that you are only afraid of the bug poop you are told about?

  10. Ms5 says

    May I suggest that the same amount of time and effort be put into researching ancient traditional diets as you have put into researching ingredients. This will help to discern between what ingredients are “good” and which are “bad”. Cultures around the globe have traditionally eaten animals including insects for as long as they have existed, and all who have done so have had outstanding health. You can argue quantity or other semantics but this fact remains none the less. It isn’t until one enters more industrialized or civilized communities where refined and/or artificial foods are consumed and ill health follows and is inherited generation after generation. A person who has been raised on a diet (I won’t say always but most of the time) that is removed from true food sources naturally will consider things that are outside of their norm to be “weird”, “strange”, or “gross”. They will also suffer from some form of ill health, be it tooth decay, allergies, asthma, blood sugar imbalances, endocrine disorders, gut/digestive issues, or worse. Ancient/traditional cultures/communities did not/do not suffer these health problems. Consuming insects, their organs, or their excretions should not be the most alarming cause for concern…. Rather the focus and needed attention should be on the laboratory created, molecularly altered, artificial, chemically derived “ingredients” that are known to cause health problems. Red dye #40 and all the other number of dyes and chemicals that are in jelly beans and other “foods” should be of first concern. Not the natural substance that doesn’t cause harm.

  11. Donna says

    At the end of the day the taste of jelly beans is lush, well apart frm the purple ones……perhaps thy use different poop for those!

  12. Kay says

    I don’t care for them as an adult… but come on people… all the foods we ate growing up didn’t kill us and I’m not sure I believe this anymore then all the rest of the crap on the internet about ..LOOK WHAT is in OUR FOOD…People like to scare you to death about everything these days .. no wonder their are so many paranoid people on meds… just saying….

  13. Sabine says

    I would rather eat the covering then the GMO inside of it.. all the above mentioned companies are not only producing unhealthy products, they also (especially Nestle) stealing your ground water as you all do not deserve free water and using the money to do so that you spend on buying their stuff…
    FDA approved means nothing… they have a disclaimer you need to read on their website stating that their approval kills 1000’s of people every year.. they are run by a head called Monsanto.. so all for me is questionable..
    Go bugs… at least that would be natural.. except the colouring … hmmm

  14. Honora says

    M&M’s use carnauba wax. It comes from a Brazilian tree and only a tiny amount is required. My partner researched this because his shoe polish contains it as an ingredient. It is an amazing substance and there is nothing like it.

    I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about eating beetle excescence. Here in New Zealand, we have a delicious honeydew honey that bees produce from the sugary excretions of a mite in the beech tree bark. It’s nice to lick off the droplet at the end of the solidified whisker.

  15. says

    Very disturbing information. I gather it is used on food for prolonged shelf life and to make it prettier. How deceiving to have customers thinking it’s candy but it’s not, when It’s really a dap of sugar with bug poop on top.

  16. Emma says

    So, vegans can’t have jelly beans, whoppers, etc, etc. And probably most chocolate, too. Well. forget about candy for vegans. I feel so sorry for them…

  17. jellybeaneater says

    Yah, and another shocking fact about eating bug excrement. People around the world are eating bee excrement. Bees eat nectar from flowers, then excrete it in their nests. People collect this runny, gooey, excrement and package it for human consumption (try to not get sick). They call it “honey.” … Do you get the point???
    So what if they use insect excrement to coat the candy??? People also spoon insect excrement into their tea.

  18. Steven says

    Bug poop_ oh no,,,,, I’m going to die. Get real people, I guarantee every one alive has eaten much worse.look at other countries that eat the entire bugs for food and have been doing so for hundreds and thousands of years. You need to think about how the human body breaks down food: stomach acid.By the time this has taken place, it’s burnt up and causes no harm at all. Our bodies have livers that extract and clean our blood of enzymes and other bad stuff also. STOP WORRYING ABOUT BUG POOP,life is short(enjoy it).

  19. chastity says

    The shampoo part kind of made me cringe. I will never buy shampoo that involves “shiny hair” ever again.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *