Is E904 Halal or Haram? What Is E904 In Food? Is It Safe?

Nowadays globalized world, the food industry is extremely evolving. One such food additives are those under E-code numbers, incorporating new ingredients and additives to enhance various products’ taste, texture, and shelf-life.

One of the well-known food additives that gained considerable attention due to its complex Halal status of halal and haram foods is the E904 food code, also known as shellac.

Undoubtedly, many consumers become more mindful of their dietary choices and their impact, first on health, followed by religion and the environment. So, understanding food additives like E904 is becoming increasingly important.

What Is E904 Food Additive?

Shellac, also known as E904, is a resinous material obtained from the secretions of female lac bugs living on trees in the lush forests of India and Thailand.

The refined shellac, used in various applications such as food and non-food products, is produced by harvesting and processing this natural polymer.

Is 904 Halal Or Haram?

The analogy of bee honey doesn’t apply to E904. Female lac bug secretion is not permissible for Muslims since consuming insects is haram, let alone their secretion. Also, it presents a trace amount of alcohol.

Shellac contains only trace amounts of alcohol (less than 0.5%). Indeed, trace amounts are not enough to make it haram. But generally, they have alcohol. So, the answer is NO. E904 is haram and unsuitable for Muslims.


Muslims who are looking for halal food additives should avoid e904. This additive is made from insect secretions and is not permissible for Muslims to consume. Therefore, the rule of honey bees doesn’t apply to this secretion.

What is the History and Origin of the E904 food additive?

Shellac has been used for centuries as a dye, varnish, and protective coating for wooden objects. 

In the early 1900s, it was introduced to artwork. Later on, it became a food additive, which helped improve the shelf life of fruits and safeguard against microbes.

What is the Chemical Composition 904?

Shellac consists primarily of hydroxy acids, specifically aleuritic acid, and smaller quantities of other polyhydroxy acids. It also contains some neutral components, such as wax and resin. 

When processed, shellac is typically dissolved in alcohol to create a liquid solution utilized as a coating or glaze in various food products.

What Foods Contain E904?

E904 is widely used in Food and Non-Food. However, in the food industry used as a glazing agent, providing a glossy finish to products like:

  • Candies
  • Chocolates
  • Fruits
  • Pharmaceutical tablets

In addition to its food-related applications, shellac is also used in the production of:

  • Furniture polish
  • Varnishes
  • Printing inks
  • Cosmetics

 E904 Is It Safe?  

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) considered E904 safe for human consumption.

The safety of E904 for use in food products has been evaluated by both the FDA and the EFSA. Their evaluations indicate that it is safe for consumption (recommended to consume it in moderation).

Is E904 Vegan?

Unfortunately, E904 is not vegan or vegetarian since it is sourced from Female lac Bug secretion. The same analogy of bee honey applies to this case because vegans & vegetarians can not consume any derived animals or insect by-products.

What Are The Alternative Additives To E904

If you’re looking for substitutes for E904, several natural, such as glazing agents and synthetic additives can serve similar purposes, such as:

  • Beeswax (E901)
  • Carnauba wax (E903)
  • Synthetic resins (like polyethylene glycol (E914))

It is worth noting that carnauba wax has a higher melting point, making it more stable in high temperatures. While synthetic resins like polyethylene glycol might not provide the same natural shine, but a more cost-effective option and offer increased versatility in different applications.

Final Thoughts

To make informed decisions about the food we consume, it’s important to understand the origin, uses, and implications of E904. While E904 is generally considered safe within acceptable limits, it is unsuitable for those following halal and vegan diets.

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