Glazing Agents & Edible Surface Coatings

Definition

EU Directive 95/2/EC (Feb 1995) defines glazing agents (including lubricants) as substances which, when applied to the external surface of a foodstuff, impart a shiny appearance or provide a protective coating.

Source

Many glazing agents and edible surface coatings are derived from waxes naturally produced by animals and plants to retain moisture, while others are synthetically derived from petroleum. Shellac is a EU approved food glazing agent listed below according to their E numbers.

E Number Product
E904 Shellac, a wax-containing resin secreted by the Lac insect Kerria lacca.

Properties

Surface coatings are applied as a liquid layer onto a product via mechanical processes such as spraying, mixing or dipping. Having uniformly applied the coating to the product, the coating is stabilized by drying, heating, cooling or freezing, helping to prolong the product’s longevity. Encapsulation involves the application of a liquid layer to minute particles and relies on more processes than mechanical movement alone, such as entrapping a molecule inside a matrix, polymerization and chemical bonding.

Glazing agents create a glossy, smooth surface coating that provides a protective, moisture resistant barrier. The coating helps to preserve food products by locking-in internal moisture or preventing their degradation due to external humidity, resulting in a prolonged shelf-life. Desirable properties of glazing agents include the stability to maintain their integrity under heat or pressure and their ability to provide a uniform, homogenous coating on an industrial scale.

Uses

Food Industry

Surface coatings are used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of food products by improving their luster or changing their color. They can also improve the palatability of the products by changing their texture or taste, or by enhancing their flavor. Surface coatings are sometimes used to enrich the product by adding vitamins and minerals. They may also function as release agents to prevent packaging sticking to the products.

The table at the bottom of this page lists some of the main food additives approved by the European Union (EU) for use as glazing agents, including the food categories in which their use is authorized and the maximum levels allowed within those food categories.

Confectionery Industry

Confectionery products are often coated by sugar panning, which involves tumbling products such as nuts, chocolates or jelly beans in syrup to create a sugary outer shell. Confectioner’s glaze is often used to provide a glossy surface coating for candies.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Surface coatings are used as an excipient to coat tablets and capsules in order to improve their shelf-life. Encapsulation is also used to protect medications and control their release. Historically, pharmaceutical glaze (Shellac in an alcohol solution) is used as an enteric coating.

Cosmetics Industry

Lipsticks, lip balms, emollients and other skincare products contain waxes that when applied provide a glossy surface coating.

Food Category E901 - Beeswax, white & yellow E902 - Candelilla wax E903 - Carnauba wax E904 – Shellac E905 - Microcrystalline wax E414 – Gum Arabic
Edible ices (3) QS, only prepacked wafers containg ice cream. N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Fruit and vegetables (4)
Entire fresh fruit and vegetables (4.1.1) QS, only for the surface treatment of fruit: citrus fruit, melons, apples, pears, peaches, pineapples, bananas, mangoes, avocados and pomegranates and as glazing agent on nuts. QS, only surface treatment of citrus fruit, melons, apples, pears, peaches and pineapples and glazing agent on nuts. ML = 200 mg/kg, only for the surface treatment of fruit: citrus fruit, melons, apples, pears, peaches, pineapples, pomegranates, mangoes, avocados and papayas and as glazing agent on nuts. QS, only for the surface treatment of fruit: citrus fruit, melons, apples, pears, peaches, pineapples, pomegranates, mangoes, avocados and papayas and as glazing agent on nuts. QS, only for the surface treatment of fruit: melons, papayas, mangoes, avocados and pineapples. N/A
Confectionery (5)
Cocoa and Chocolate products as covered by Directive 2000/36/EC (5.1) QS, as glazing agent only. QS, as glazing agent only. ML = 500 mg/kg, as glazing agent only. QS, as glazing agent only. N/A QS, as glazing agent only.
Other confectionery including breath refreshening microsweets (5.2) QS, as glazing agent only. QS, as glazing agent only. ML = 500 mg/kg, as glazing agent only. QS, as glazing agent only. QS, surface treatment only. N/A
Chewing gum (5.3) QS, as glazing agent only. QS, as glazing agent only. ML = 1200 mg/kg, as glazing agent only. QS, as glazing agent only. QS, surface treatment only. N/A
Decorations, coatings and fillings, except fruit-based fillings covered by category 4.2.4 (5.4) QS, as glazing agent only. QS, as glazing agent only. ML = 500 mg/kg, as glazing agent only.
ML = 200 mg/kg , as glazing agent only for small fine bakery wares, coated with chocolate.
QS, as glazing agent only. QS, surface treatment only. N/A
Bakery wares (7)
Fine bakery wares (7.2) QS, only as glazing agents only for small products of fine bakery wares coated with chocolate. QS, only as glazing agents only for small products of fine bakery wares coated with chocolate. ML = 200 mg/kg, only as glazing agents only for small products of fine bakery wares coated with chocolate. QS, only as glazing agents only for small products of fine bakery wares coated with chocolate. N/A N/A
Eggs and egg products (10)
Processed eggs and egg products (10.2) N/A N/A ML = 3600 mg/kg, only on the surface of unpeeled colored boiled eggs. QS, only on the surface of unpeeled boiled eggs. N/A N/A
Beverages (14)
Coffee, coffee extracts (14.1.5.1) QS, only coffee beans, as glazing agent. QS, only coffee beans, as glazing agent. ML = 200 mg/l, only coffee beans, as glazing agent. QS, only coffee beans, as glazing agent. N/A N/A
Ready-to-eat savouries and snacks (15)
Potato-, cereal-, flour- or starch-based snacks (15.1) QS, as glazing agent only. N/A ML = 200 mg/kg, as glazing agents only. QS, as glazing agent only. N/A N/A
Processed nuts (15.2) QS, as glazing agent only. N/A ML = 200 mg/kg, as glazing agents only. QS, as glazing agent only. N/A N/A
Food supplements, excluding food supplements for infants and young children (17)
Food supplements supplied in a solid form including capsules and tablets and similar forms, excluding chewable forms (17.1) QS. QS. ML = 200 mg/kg. QS. N/A N/A
Food supplements supplied in a syrup-type or chewable form (17.3) QS. QS. ML = 200 mg/kg. QS. N/A N/A

Abbreviations:
ML = Maximum Level
QS = Quantum Satis
N/A = Not Applicable