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Nov 24, 2011 08:02 PM

Hurt by cheap pine nuts in Stamford

OK, so maybe 'hurt' is a little dramatic. But I was hit with something with a silly name called "Pine Mouth" that is anything but silly. I purchased a bag of pine nuts from Shop Rite and 48 hours after ingesting them everything I ate had a horrible, bitter, metallic aftertaste -- for a WEEK! Thankfully Thanksgiving dinner was my first normal meal.

This is a documented problem with a specific type of pine nut imported from China (my bag said Made in USA!) called pinus armandii. THey are smaller, rounder, and more of a mottled brown than the long, creamy even-colored rectangular pine nuts from Europe. They tasted fine.

I will tell you this is NOT fun. Most people get it for 2 weeks, apparently. I found a lot of message boards claiming Whole Foods and Trader Joe's not only sell them, but are unsympathetic to consumers who get this awful effect.

They are being imported b/c they are cheaper than the other kinds. Even the Chinese government agrees they should not be consumed... but they are making it over here!

Shop Rite
1990 W Main St, Stamford, CT 06902

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  1. Thanks for this post. I love pine nuts and was just about to buy some at Costco. This link explains the syndrome and provides some advice. Two varieties, Chinese White Pine and Chinese Red Pine, may be a problem. I hope the label provides some information.

    5 Replies
    1. re: City Kid

      The bag at my Costco said "product of China." Beware.

      1. re: pine time

        yep. i picked up the bag, saw "China" on the label, and dropped it like a hot potato.

        i actually found Spanish pine nuts a few weeks my local small-town Stop & Shop of all places.

        FWIW, i used to buy them at TJ's and never got pine mouth from them, but after hearing that a lot of people did, i stopped buying theirs.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I've bought the large bag from Costco in the past, never had a bad reaction, but it's been a year or more since. They were pale, long, unmottled and tasted really good. Pine mouth sounds dreadful!

          1. re: mcf

            it is dreadful, i've had it twice! great appetite suppressant - it makes everything taste disgusting.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Yecch. Will not buy those at Costco again.

    2. Yes, thanks for the post. I was about to buy some at Costco too.
      Lots of places to get the real thing from New Mexico and Nevada online, but sounds like the drought has been a real bummer -- this website I ordered from in the past says there was NO HARVEST this year. ouch!


      1 Reply
      1. re: danbob

        I did see Turkish ones available at ShopRite in the natural nuts, dried fruits section near produce. They definitely look different than the Chinese kind. I no longer trust country of origin labeling. The key is that they are the light, rectangular, even-textured kind. Funny, the ones in the photograph of many articles I'm seeing on the topic are of the safe kind. Once you notice the difference its easy to spot.

      2. I don't know about your local Whole Foods market, but mine, in Sherman Oaks, CA, carries them in the bulk bin from Spain. $28.00 lb.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Bob Brooks

          good to know! hey, i know that store - was that a Wild Oats a million years ago? Or some other local healthy chain?

          1. re: dairygodmother

            It was never a Wild Oats but I think it was a Westward Ho about twenty some years ago.(This is the one on Sepulveda, just south of Ventura.

          2. re: Bob Brooks

            The bulk foods mgr at our WFM told me they are from China. We are surrounded by piƱon trees here in New Mexico! If yours are from Spain, you are lucky. I refuse to buy something if I don't know the country of origin. You can tell by the bar code number where it's from despite what it does or doesn't say on the label.

            1. re: sandiasingh

              The bar code does not tell you the country of origin.

              The bar code consists of a prefix (which just clarifies whether it's a coupon, a saleable item, or a book), then a group of numbers indicating the manufacturer, followed by a group of numbers indicating the part number of the item, and finally a check digit.

              The number for the manufacturer is assigned by the relevant authority for the country in which the product is being sold, and it completely random.

              The number for the product is set by the manufacturer.

              The check digit is a single digit derived from a mathematical formula manipulation of the other digits.

              Nowhere is the country of origin specified, and a single product sold in multiple countries will bear multiple bar codes, depending on the standards and the regulations of each country in which the product will be sold.

              1. re: sunshine842

                Thanks for the explanation. You must be in the industry to have such a clear understanding of the string of numbers. It looks like this was a food myth that was circulating a few years ago. We need to change the laws.

                I buy cheeses and some other products from the EU because for the most part they have outlawed GMOs but I think they've started drinking the Koolaid too.

                1. re: sandiasingh

                  The authorities in charge of bar codes have absolutely nothing to do with customs or agriculture (and are in fact not often affiliated with any government), so don't look for that to happen any time soon.

                  They print the country of origin on the packaging in plain English (or French or Spanish or whatever...) because they WANT you to be able to read it without trudging through very boring UPC code regulations to understand them.

                  Country-of-origin labeling laws are pretty stringent around the world -- not to say that there aren't violators, but the penalties for omitting them or using an incorrect or misleading name are pretty heavy and enforcement pretty strict, so the cheaters (assuming main-stream suppliers and not something bought from under the counter in a small store) are the exception, rather than the rule.

                  Europe is incredibly adamant about no GMO, and it's proudly plastered across the labels of all kinds of things.

          3. This is not really a Chains issue. You will find several threads about pine mouth on the General Chowhounding board. Affected pine nuts are widely sold in countless supermarkets and elsewhere.