There’s been a mystery afoot with pine nuts. A bitter aftertaste has affected so many that it’s earned the name ‘pine mouth’. Supermarkets didn’t believe us, but with your help we’ve got to the bottom of it.
Complaining is a big part of British culture. Sometimes we even have a good reason to go with it.
So it was slightly surprising when we looked into ‘pine mouth’ earlier this year to hear that so little was being done about an issue that was affecting so many people.
Bitter aftertaste due to unscrupulous producers
Pine mouth is a bitter, metallic aftertaste caused by the consumption of pine nuts, and can in some cases lead to nausea and stomach problems.
We first heard about pine mouth through one of our members, but after our story in August’s Which? Magazine we received literally hundreds of letters and e-mails about this problem.
But when we started researching the causes we found a lot of speculation and little in the way of facts. It took correspondence with the European Commission (EC) to get to the bottom of the problem – namely that an inedible type of pine nut from China had entered the food chain following a pine nut shortages.
Following intervention by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese authorities have endeavoured to stop this practice, but the EC couldn’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be further incidences.
Your pine mouth stories can help
Some issues are too big to be ignored, but while wholly unpleasant, pine mouth is thankfully not life-threatening. It does provide a cautionary tale though. When we spoke to supermarkets stocking the offending pine nuts and also the Food Standards Agency (FSA), we were repeatedly told that they’d only had a few complaints, and hadn’t deemed the issue serious enough.
Any issue relating to food safety should be brought to the attention of the FSA, local Trading Standards officers, and ourselves. This can take the form of a letter or a phone call, but don’t underestimate the power of the nag.
So with your help we can get something done. If you’ve fallen foul of pine mouth don’t just tell us about it below, email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the pine nuts and the length of time you suffered the bitter taste to get your case recorded.