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Jun 27, 2010 03:48 PM

Pine Mouth in T-O! (watch out for bad pine nuts) - moved from Ontario board

My wife and I are both enduring our second recent bout of "Pine Mouth," a bizarre condition that gives food a weird metallic taste and turns eating into a generally unpleasant experience.

I've done a bit of research and contacted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Turns out it's a fairly new phenomenon, that's been widely reported in the U.S., and that's on the rise in Canada.

The pine nuts in question taste totally normal when you eat them. A couple days later though, food and drink start tasting weird. Apparently, this is the only symptom and it's not dangerous in any way -- just really annoying.

I don't have much advise to offer on which pine nuts to avoid, although both times it's happened to us, we noticed that the nuts looked much smaller than the ones we are used to. We bought the first batch at a bulk place in St. Lawrence Market. The second time they showed up in a salad at one of our favourite Queen West restaurants. I called the store owner the first time, and restaurant manager the second time. Both were nice and expressed concern, but not entirely convinced that their product was to blame. Can't say I blame them -- I didn't believe it myself when I first read about it, and it's hard to believe such a delicious ingredient could make other foods taste so gross.

Anyway, just thought folks might like to know that if you're experience similar symptoms, it might be those pine nuts you ate a few days ago.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
, St Marys, ON N4X1C8, CA

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    1. Funny but I never have issues with the reputedly substandard pine nuts--or any other type of nuts--from Costco.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Kagemusha

        Me, neither. I keep mine in the freezer, and they last forever... Great price, too. I have never heard of this before, and thankfully never experienced it.

        Edit: Just checked the Costco bag and it says Product of China. I'm not going to stop eating them, though...

        1. re: Full tummy

          Have you seen pine nuts at Costco recently? I've been looking for the past 3 months and they don't seem to stock them anymore. Their product is consistent and well-priced, which I can't say about some other places...

      2. It happened to us a couple of months ago from wee little pine nuts (that tasted and smelled just fine) that we bought on a whim at the pasta place - Pasticchia? - near Sporting Life. I was starting to half-question whether or not I had a brain tumour or some other freakish disease as it was such a weird and overwhelming symptom (every single thing I ate had an after taste of metallic soap for days) - when my husband told me he was feeling the same thing, we hopped on to google and heard about pine mouth for the first time. I went back to the store to tell them but it was busy and the person behind the counter was so frazzled that I didn't think the message would get across. The worst part is the lingering aversion I have to pine nuts, which I love but still can't quite find the courage to go back to.

        7 Replies
        1. re: peppermint pate

          Not sure, but I suspect the packaged pine nuts may be safer than the bulk ones.

          And Peppermint Pate is right... though Pine Mouth apparently isn't dangerous, its main symptom (a metallic taste in your mouth) is also a symptom of much more serious conditions including stroke. This is one of the reasons why I posted -- so that those who contract it (and their doctors) will know pine nuts are to blame, and not a stroke.

          1. re: jon b

            Metal mouth is also a symptom of early pregnancy, as I have experienced first-hand, hahaha.


            1. re: jon b

              Low volume, pricey nuts from a small SLM bulk store pretty much assures freshness issues--sorry but it's the last place I'd buy. Have bought pine nuts from Bulk Store locations with no complaints--if they're toxic and kill me, then at least the family can sue the Westons! Practically, big box means big volume, fast turnover and freshness for short shelf life items like nuts. Hard to argue otherwise, consumer politics notwithstanding.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                This happened to me twice over the last 3 months. I couldn't believe it the first time and thought I had a strange disease. Then the second time I had to cancel a dinner at Scaramouche because everything tasted awful. After googling a bit I found out it was the pine nuts. I've tried two different kinds and both caused it. I am now loathe to eat any brand. Many don't even label where they come from.

                1. re: Flexitarian

                  Make sure whoever you buy from actually turns them over. That's why I never buy perishables like nuts from cutesy vendors like the SLM crew. Seems like restos grab whatever is available. Bulk Barn and Costco have never sold me stale nuts of any kind. Indeed, Costco's seem to be among the freshest available--and the cheapest! Sorry about your problem.

              2. re: jon b

                Not really jon b - we bought expensive organic pine nuts in a small sealed bag at Loblaws - not Chinese. My husband and I both got pine mouth. I have since read it is not just Chinese pine nuts - so I avoid pine nuts at all costs having had pine mouth several times in the past year (once from a lovely starter we shared at Harbord Room that had toasted pine nuts on top!).

                I made my pesto with walnuts this year (sadly this is not as good). I have no idea what to do - any suggestions on safe brands out there???

                1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                  "we bought expensive organic pine nuts in a small sealed bag at Loblaws - not Chinese. My husband and I both got pine mouth."

                  That's pretty much a guarantee of staleness! Go for turnover. I get mine from Costco and store them in a sealed jar in the fridge after opening--no problems.

            2. I believe the problem arises from collecting the seeds of a slightly different variety of pine tree other than the pinon. One of the threads mentioned above will surely say which ones to avoid.

              1. For the last couple of days I have been wondering what the heck was wrong with me. Everything tastes awful and bitter. But after seeing this thread, I am pretty sure it's the pine nuts I bought a couple of days ago. I ate a small handful to see if they were fresh. They seemed okay at the time.

                I hope it clears up soon, because it's an awful taste/feeling.