Food and Nutrition

Pine-Nut Eaters Complain of Bad Taste Lasting Weeks

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Do you love pine nuts? Do you have a persistent bad taste in your mouth after eating them? Well, you're not alone: food website Epicurious reports that since 2008, people have been reporting a lingering metallic taste in their mouths after snacking on pine nuts. The taste can last weeks, and it affects the taste of everything else the sufferer eats or drinks. It's being dubbed "pine mouth."

Food flavor issues - the ones that aren't obviously related to moldy produce or food that's past its sell-by date - usually come from fungus, pesticides or chemical contamination. Since this outbreak of
"pine mouth" coincides with pine nuts being imported from China, it'd be reasonable to think the bad-tasting nuts are being affected by one of these flavor-tainting contaminants. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Also, not everyone experiences "metal mouth" after eating the nuts, which makes the whole thing even more confusing.

Botanist Roger Hyam, who fell victim to "pine mouth" in 2008, did his own extensive research, and concluded that the bad taste might have been due to a different species of pine nut: he couldn't, however, pinpoint which species was causing the problem.

Commenters on the Epicurious article suggested several home remedies for "pine mouth": a teaspoon of crystallized ginger; aloe vera juice; or activated charcoal. Others recommended only buying Italian pine nuts and forgoing the Chinese variety.

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It's also important to remember that a bad taste in the mouth can be a symptom of health issues: it's always a good idea to see a doctor if you have a persistent odd flavor in your mouth, just in case you're dealing with something more serious than funky-tasting pine nuts.