People are just discovering what the wax on lemons is made from – and it will make your stomach churn!
The waxy finish on lemons – have you ever thought about what it is made of?
Viewers of a recent episode of Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped have discovered exactly what goes into the mixture and it’s left some people horrified.
It’s rare that you would eat the zesty peel of a lemon but slices are often added to food and drinks.
So it’s no surprise that stomachs churned when people discovered the wax is made from a waste substance secreted by bugs.
According to Nigella Lawson, fruit producers spray the skin of citrus fruits with a thin layer of wax after the fruit is harvested to keep them looking fresh.
After lemons have been harvested they’re often covered in a waxy glaze to help them travel and give them an appetising sheen (stock image)
It also provides some protection for the skin during transit and adds an inviting shine.
However, in an episode of Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped presenters Kate Quilton, 39, and Matt Tebbutt, 49, travelled to factories around the world to discover why lemons are often waxy and exactly what that wax is made from.
Matt discovered one of key ingredients, along with a type of plastic, is shellac, a word most commonly associated with the stuff we coat our nails in.
Intrigued, Kate popped over to Thailand to find out exactly what shellac is made out of and the results have left viewers horrified.
Taking Kate into the jungle, her host Tomas explained that the key component is found in trees.
Baffled, the presenter starts looking around and is shocked when they cut down a branch covered in what Tomas describes as insect nests.
The insects, known as lac beetles, spend their whole life attached to a tree, sucking up its sap.
Kate called the fact that lemon wax is made from beetle poop ‘bizarre’ after travelling to Thailand to find out more about what shellac is made from
Tomas, explains: ‘The shining product we make it from pee or waste from the beetles.’
In a voiceover Matt explains that the female lac beetle excretes their waste onto the branches of the trees to make a hard protective nest.
It’s this nest with the live and dead beetles in which the pickers scrape off to make shellac, which is why some super-strict vegans don’t consider some lemons to be vegan-friendly.
After hearing this revelation many viewers were left horrified and amused.
Referencing a point in the clip where Kate tasted the liquid shellac and told the factory owner it had a distinct taste, one person wrote: ‘That’s pretty hilarious. “Oh it’s got flavour”, then a few minutes later we find out why.’
Kate’s host Tomas showed what the insect nests looked like and told her there were babies in each of the sacs before pulling one off to show her
Kate was fascinated to see the dead and alive bugs under the microscope as Tomas told her the hard stuff was actually poop and pee from the insects
Viewers of the clip were shocked by the revelation that lemon wax is made from beetle poop, amongst other things
Another viewer added: ‘beetle pee + polyethlene : fantastic recipe for the people in hell [sic].’
‘Then she ate the lemon wax that came from beetle pee and poop,’ wrote one grossed out person.
Someone else penned: ‘that is the list of my worries lol, but insect waste and the synthetic plastic whatchamacallit that is apparently edible.’
‘Is there anything Kate won’t put in her gob,’ joked another person.