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What is Carnauba Wax?

Label Able: Carnauba Wax

A couple weeks ago, I reviewed Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks. As much as I liked them, I was a little weirded out by one item on the list of ingredients — carnauba wax.

As unappetizing as it sounds, I know in my heart that a company like Annie's would never put anything unhealthy in their foods, right? If you're curious to know what this ingredient truly is, then


Carnauba wax comes from the leaves of the carnauba palm, a plant that grows in northeastern Brazil. In hot, dry weather, the palm secretes wax to protect its leaves from damage. To collect the wax, the leaves are dried and then beaten to dislodge the yellowish to brown waxy coating, which usually flakes off. The wax is refined and bleached before it's used.

I didn't know this, but carnauba wax is often called the "queen of waxes." It's a hard substance, so it's used to make durable coatings for floors and cars. It's also used in polishes, varnishes, and beauty products like mascara, deodorant, and lipstick. In foods, it's used as a coating or anti-caking agent, and can be found in frosting, candies (such as Altoids and Tic Tacs), gum, gravies, and sauces. Although I'm not too psyched that the same substance used to add a glossy finish to my shoes is also in something I eat, at least I now know that carnauba wax is plant-derived.

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