E120 and E904 are food additives that have a connection to insects:
1. **E120 (Carmine or Cochineal Extract)**: E120, also known as carmine, cochineal extract, or natural red 4, is a red dye derived from cochineal insects. Cochineal insects are small bugs found primarily in South American and Central American countries. These insects feed on cactus plants and are harvested for the production of carmine. The insects are dried and then crushed to extract the carminic acid, which is further processed to produce the red dye. This dye is used in a variety of food products, cosmetics, and textiles to impart a red or pink color.
2. **E904 (Shellac)**: E904, known as shellac, is a substance derived from the secretions of the female lac bug, which is found in India and Thailand. These bugs secrete a resin on trees, particularly on the branches of fig and acacia trees. The resin is harvested and processed to create shellac, which is used as a glazing agent in food products. It provides a shiny appearance and can also serve as a protective coating. Shellac is used in confectionery, fruits, coffee beans, and various other food products.
Both E120 and E904 are examples of how insects are utilized in the food industry, particularly for their coloring and glazing properties. However, due to their insect origins, these additives are not suitable for vegans and some vegetarians, and they can also be a concern for individuals with certain allergies or dietary restrictions.