What is Food Wax Artificial food waxes are a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients sprayed over the produce as a fine mist. Many fruit have a natural wax coating from which food technologists have learned that fruit remain fresher for longer with an artificial coating. These coatings impede respiration and transpiration of the foods.Apples have their own waxy coating but most of it is lost when the fruit are washed to remove dust and pesticides.
Today almost all fruit are coated; including grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew and certainly apples, pears, nectarines, peaches and plums. 600gms will cover approximately 160,000 items of fruit and vegetables. (United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association)
It is fairly obvious that even if the wax were truly non-K, it minute volume would render it irrelevant, Battel.
Vegetables such as avocados, bell peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are also similarly treated. These coatings help preserve freshness and enhance presentation. It’s a sort of facelift for food without the botox.
Waxes Help In Many Ways Coatings developed from whey-protein (deemed dairy according to some Halachic opinions) may be used on pizza to keep the crust under the topping crispy and similarly the crust of fruit pies from softening. Coated pecans can be more easily distributed in pecan ice cream and in caramel and chocolate bars.
The most common primary wax ingredients are shellac, carnuba wax and petroleum-based wax. More costly and less frequently used wax bases include beeswax and candelia wax. Waxes collected from tree leaves, bees and refined from petroleum are all kosher. Carnauba wax is exuded by the leaves of the Brazilian "Tree of Life” Copernicia Cerifera, thus named for the vast range of useful products garnered from the tree. The trees in the north-eastern tropical rain forests produce premium quality wax. The tree needs very little water to grow, is very prolific and attains a height 15-20 metres after fifty years.
This is the hardest wax known to man. In addition to being incredibly durable it has an affinity to water, the ability to retain oil and has excellent gloss properties, drying to a deep, natural shine unlike bees’ wax, paraffin and many synthetic waxes that tend to cloud and occlude.
Carnauba wax is used as a finish coating for automotive appearance products, furniture and tobacco pipes. It is a major ingredient in lipstick and other cosmetics. Before the advent of vinyl it was used extensively in producing phonograph records and is routinely used in the pharmaceutical industry to coat pills.
Non-Kosher Components of Food Wax Shellac or lac resin is a product derived from the secretions of the lac insect, which secretes "lac-resin" onto a host tree. This wax comes from the Coccus lacca, a scale insect that feeds on particular trees in and southern Asia . After hatching, the grub latches onto a stem, leaf, or fruit, and settles down for a lifetime of sucking at this particular spot. It protects itself by exuding a gummy substance, which hardens into a protective covering called lac. In certain species this looks like wax, in others like cotton, in still others like powder. These are collected, cleaned and treated to form thin sheets of finished shellac. Many products such as phonograph records, sealing wax, fireworks, and electrical insulators and instruments use shellac. When dissolved in alcohol, it is known as varnish. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt'l rules that it is Kosher; Igros Moshe Y.D. II 24; mainly asserting that shellac in the eyes of Halacha is like honey which is also produced by a non-K insect and yet honey is Kosher. It is of interest that Rabbi Feinstein maintains that even if we consider the shellac to be non-kosher, it would be Battel in the alcohol in which it is dissolved, in spite of the fact that the alcohol ultimately evaporates and leaves behind the unadulterated shellac. Compare the following article, "The coating is sprayed on then dried in a drying tunnel in which the alcohol and water evaporate. The significance of this fact is that whatever percentage a given additive is in the original solution, that figure is approximately four to five times that percentage of the actual coating on the fruit. In other words, if a given ingredient would be only 1% of the coating whilst in solution [making it Battel, nullified], it would constitute 5% of the coating that is actually found on the fruit [in which ratio it is not Battel]."
We should also concern ourselves with the question: is the wax to be viewed as part of the entire food and thus Battel, or a separate component and thus not Battel.
Oleic acid is also used in food wax. It can be derived from either animal or vegetable and might be added in proportions that are not Battel (insignificant).
Research is ongoing to develop new coatings from whey or casein-protein, wheat, rice-bran, corn, acetylated monoglyceride and also a triglyceride emulsion (both of which can be either from a kosher vegetable or non-kosher animal source).
Emulsifiers, added to assist and maintain the combination of oils and water and Stearic acid, an occasional additive to food grade wax may be animal based.
Soy and casein proteins are added as thickeners to lac-resin food waxes. Soy protein is kosher, but we do not eat soy on Pesach since it is “kitniyos”. Nevertheless, where the kitniyos component is both a minority and also not discernible, it may be consumed on Pesach, Mishna Berura (453:9). Accordingly soy protein in lac-resin wax may be used on Pesach.
There are some Kashrut issues that just have to make you chuckle and wonder about the new opportunities for Kosher certification of fresh fruits. May fruit bearing a dairy based (casien) coating be eaten after or together with a meat meal? SEE In fact, this may be a more profound problem of Issur DeO’RaySa proportions when cooking meat dishes with such vegetable or fruit, although we have yet to hear of Poskim recommending that meat dishes be cooked only with peeled fruit and veg. And those who restrict themselves to using only Cholov Yisroel (milk supervised by a Jew), may perhaps never eat unpeeled fruit since they may well be coated with non-cholov yisroel casein.
Proportions Are Important Even if the wax contains non-kosher components; it is kosher if the non-kosher element is Battel (Halchically insignificant) i.e. less than 1/60 which it may not be after evaporation of the solvents. This would not be a concern according to Rav M Fienstien, Igros Moshe Y.D. II 24 as mentioned above in regards to Shellac; who seems to consider that the Bittul once established (by dilution with alcohol and water) will remain even after evaporation.
If this Bittul is permitted, since it was not combined by, or on behalf of, a Jew; then in fact, such waxes should be used in preference to other waxes that contain no such non-Kosher component from both a Halachic (YD PisChey TeShuVah 116 10) and a Kabbalistic - mystical perspective. [BeNey YiSasChar MaAmorey Chodesh Adar, MaAmar 2 Shekel HaKodesh (Vol 2 page 99b): [my rough translation] “At this point it is important for you to contemplate the following: since HKB”H has arranged for this prohibited food to become combined with a majority of permissible foodstuff we must realise that this has been engineered by HaShem in order that it become permitted for us to consume. It must therefore be understood that we are particularly commanded to eat that food and not apply stringencies to avoid consuming it. This is what our Sages referred to, as explained by the holy Sheloh, He who benefits from his toil is far greater than the one who fears Heaven. The one who toils is he who studies Torah and knows the Law and understands that this food although it contains non-kosher components is nevertheless kosher. Now this person eats this food and benefits from it and is thus great than the one who fears Heaven and does not eat such foods.These words of the Sheloh are exactly the ideas that we have been explaining, that HKB”H has engineered this situation and it must be seen as a Zechus to consume such tainted food and by consuming it he gains and is greater than the one who fears Heaven who declines to eat such foods. Now in my inexperienced opinion those who pride themselves on not eating any foods (that are clearly permissible) that a Chochom ruled upon (because of a question of kashrus) are not truly of the Chassidic approach. In my opinion it is a Mitzvah to eat such foods since this is what HaShem has engineered in order that “clarification” take place with this prohibited component by being consumed by a Yisroel; and when the Talmud praises those who do not partake of an animal that a Chochom has had to rule upon, that refers only to lenient rulings that are based upon logical extrapolations [as explained by the Remo YD 116:7]
One must not disqualify a product because it contains insignificant non-Kosher components. To do so would be tantamount to denying HaShem’s Law of nullification which is as reprehensible as denying for example the Laws of Shabbos.
Additionally, since everything exists only through the holy energy emanating from The Almighty, when we ingest food we actually draw sustenance from that holy energy. Some foods are prohibited to us; the holy energy within them is not to our benefit or not accessible. However, when circumstances arise that permit that food, it is an exceptional opportunity arranged by the Mover of All Things to partake and utilise that holy energy.
According to some poskim, a non-kosher ingredient such as animal-derived glycerin, is insignificant when in a non-food product such as toothpaste even when far more than 1/60 provided it is less than 50%, batel b’rov. Similarly carnauba wax and shellac, the standard bases for coatings, are not food in the eyes of halacha and non-Kosher components are certainly less than 50%. [It is a little surprising that Shellac in this regard is considered a non-food, yet on the other hand, Shellac requires comparison to honey for it to be considered Kosher. Shellac should be permitted as it is a non-food, just as one may consume pulverized hog hair, if so inclined, as it is not food. In the same vein one wonders why Stearic acid requires Bittul; why should it not be considered a non-food? And why should toothpaste require a Hashgocha? The Aruch Hashulchan (Y.D. 117:29) and the Kaf Hachaim (O.C. 326:45) note that inedible soap manufactured from non-Kosher fats may be used even according to the most strict rulings. The Aruch Hashulchan writes that this is the commonly accepted and unchallenged practice among Jews throughout the world.
Although waxes may contain non-kosher sub-ingredients Halacha instructs us to:
a) follow the majority: we therefore consider all waxes to be of the kosher varieties unless non-kosher waxes are known to be used for particular applications.We are guided by such assertions every time we drink milk for example. Kosher milk must come from a kosher animal that is not a treifa. If milk originates from a cow with any blemish that renders it a treifa, one may not drink the milk, as it is not kosher. We cannot guarantee the kosher status of the cows that are milked; they may have adhesions on the lung, not an uncommon issue that disqualifies much of what is slaughtered for the kosher market. It would be rather unproductive to slaughter and check each cow immediately after milking it. Yet no one has so far suggested that we may not drink milk because we cannot be positive that the milk is kosher. We are guided by the rule, holchin achar harov, as the majority of cows are not treifa. By the way, the same argument permits us to eat meat although we have not and indeed cannot check for every single possibility that may render the animal not kosher.
b) follow the principles of Bittul, the non-kosher derived components are insignificant in the finished product.