Cheap Chinese pine nuts blamed for rare mouth condition
Have you had a nasty metallic taste in your mouth for more than a few days?
Could be you’ve been eating toxic pine nuts.
And you’re not alone. The Food Standards Agency has investigated hundreds of cases and supermarkets have had to pledge to only import from trusted suppliers.
The rare condition results in a foul taste in your mouth, meaning every time you eat or drink, you can’t taste anything except a nasty, bitter flavour which can last for weeks.
David Ambler, a series producer on Masterchef, says he spent days not being able to taste anything except a foul, bitter flavour.
“The taste was absolutely disgusting,” he says. ” Everything I ate or drank was metallic flavoured and horrible. And it lasted several days.”
However, others affected by the condition, dubbed “pine mouth”, can have symptoms for up to nine weeks.
The newly set up Facebook group, called “Damn You Pine Nuts,” which has 594 members, include comments from: ”I love food but now everything tastes like crushed up medicine,” to “This is hell!”
China produces the majority of the world’s pine nuts and the problem appears to be a particular variety, known as Pinus Armandi, which is inedible but cheaper to produce and often ends up being mixed with the more expensive variety of nuts.
It seems the seeds of Pinus Armandi can contaminate the nuts and if this happens, it can take just one nut to contract the condition.
A European Commission health and consumer policy spokesperson told Which?: “The most plausible case would be the mixing of edible pine nuts (Pinus Koraiensis and Pinus Cedar with inedible pine nuts (Pinus Armandi).
“This would have taken place during the 2008/09 season, when there was a temporary shortage and prices were high. Since November 2009, measures have been put in place in China to ensure that such mixing no longer takes place.”
The International Nut and Dried Fruit Association recently met with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to ensure European consumers they would no longer export the cheaper variety.
If you think you’ve been affected, you can join the Facebook group or write to the FSA: firstname.lastname@example.org, explaining your symptoms, the length of time you’ve suffered and details of the nuts eaten.
The FSA might try to fob you off but it seems the condition is affecting hundreds (if not thousands) of people, so it’s worth registering your complaint.
Never underestimate pester power!
Photo: Thanks to Anselm on Flickr.
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