Britain’s Daily Mail warns that consumers of chinese pine nuts may experience a “foul, metallic taste” for up to two weeks “making practically all food and drink unpalatable.” The untreatable ailment is known as pine mouth, and it’s puzzling both doctors and consumers alike.
I, too, fell foul of the metal mouth syndrome after eating a few handfuls of pine nuts bought from a supermarket.
Though I regained my taste after eight days, the only thing I could drink during that time was water, and the only food that was bearable was salad leaves smothered in strong balsamic vinegar. Drinking wine was like swallowing liquid metal.
Most worryingly of all, neither I nor my GP had the slightest idea what was wrong with me.
Kristin Donnelly, editor of online magazine Food & Wine, had the same problem. ‘No matter what I tasted, there was a medicinal flavour at the back of my throat,’ she says.
Trader Joe’s acknowledged the problem in response to one consumer’s complaint, writing:
Thank you for your feedback. We would like to extend our apologies for this unpleasant experience. We are aware this has been occurring more frequently with the batch of Pine Nuts we currently have available. This is an all natural occurrence and poses absolutely no health risk, but may linger for a day or so, or possible a couple weeks.
This is not just an occurrence with Trader Joe’s brand or source, and not everyone reacts to the natural pine oils like this. Unfortunately, there are no quick remedies or preventive measure we can take to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and there also isn’t a way to determine if this may occur with future batches.
I also wanted to make sure you are aware of our “Product Guarantee.” If you are dissatisfied with any product purchased in our stores, you can take it back for an exchange or full refund. We stand behind our motto, “We tried it! We liked it! If you don’t, bring it back for a full refund, no questions asked.”
Afflicted consumers have tried everything from drinking liquid aloe vera to taking activated charcoal tablets, but nothing seems to help. Doctors say that the pine nuts aren’t a health risk, but that’s little comfort to consumers who can no longer enjoy their food.