Have You Been Struck By "Pine Mouth"?

Illustration for article titled Have You Been Struck By "Pine Mouth"?

I’ve avoided pine nuts since the first time I had them. That’s because a few hours after snacking on them, I noticed that my mouth tasted like I’d been eating old engine parts that had been soaked in ammonia. Everything, including my own breath, tasted metallic and bitter. I figured I was mildly allergic. I was wrong.

But I was not alone. “Pine mouth” strikes people so frequently that the FDA has released a statement about it. They couldn’t say much, beyond it only seemed to happen to people eating raw pine nuts, and that it was an “adverse food reaction... that is clearly distinct from a typical food allergy.”

What is it? There’s speculation that it has something to do with a chemical used during the shelling process of pine nuts from China, because there was an increase in pine mouth during a year when there was an increase in imported pine nuts from China. Other than that, there is no real indication on what causes it. Fortunately, it goes away as mysteriously as it came. There aren’t any other symptoms, besides slight hunger due to not eating because of the bitter-metal taste in your mouth.

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There is only case of tragic, permanent pine mouth.

Illustration for article titled Have You Been Struck By "Pine Mouth"?

Heartrending.

[Via Pine Mouth and Consumption of Pine Nuts, What if All Food Tasted Bad?]

Top Image: Zwedlana.

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DISCUSSION

I have never eaten raw pine nuts, but I have this problem with Deep River brand rosemary and olive oil chips. I love them so much, and about an hour down the line my mouth tastes like hot garbage water. It sticks around for the rest of the day... but I keep eating those damn chips. To get all behavioral for a minute, I think it’s because the immediate consequence is good flavor, which is behaviorally reinforcing; the positive punishment of tasting the underside of an asshole for the rest of the day is too distal to actually influence the appearance of the behavior.