Metallic tasting pine nuts are from illegitimate Chinese sources

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pine nut

‘Counterfeit' pine nuts may be the reason why consumers have been experiencing ‘pine mouth’, according to a statement made by the Danish food authority Fødevarestyrelsen.

Fødevarestyrelsen (Danish food ministry) says the ‘illegitimate'​ Chinese pine nuts have a different fatty acid profile than 'genuine' pine nuts and are responsible for the bitter metallic tastes.

Metallic tastes

Pine nuts are a popular addition to salads, and a crucial ingredient in pesto sauce.

But over the last few years, there have been reports of some consumers experiencing “strange metallic tastes”​ around one day after eating pine nuts.

The bitter metallic tastes seem to only affect a small group of consumers, but no explanation of how or why they are affected has ever been found.

‘Pine-mouth’ was reported by Fødevarestyrelsen to be related to certain species of pine from China - Pinus armandii​ (Chinese white pine) and Pinus massoniana​ (Chinese red pine).

Both species have smaller, round or triangular nuts that are only occasionally for exported pine nuts. However, with a growing demand for pine nuts, they reported that these species of nut are being increasingly mixed with 'real' pines.

They say since the European Commission have been aware of the problem, they have stopped Chinese exports of these 'illegitimate'​ pine nuts to the EU – however there may be smaller batches of the ‘counterfeit’ Chinese pine nuts on the market.

Other investigations

Reports of ‘pine mouth’ initially circulated in Belgium in 2001, prompting the Poisons Centre to conduct a comparison of affected and unaffected nut batches - no chemical differences were found.

Last year the UK’s Food Standards Agency began an investigation into such reports of lingering metallic tastes, sometimes lasting as long as two weeks.

Over recent years the ‘pine mouth’ problem has grown, with reports of incidents occurring globally.

Many reports were said to have followed consumption of nuts imported from China. However, until now there has been no official link between Chinese imports and the ‘metallic taste’​ problems.

Earlier this year the Swedish Food Administration (NFA) decided to carry out an investigation into the reports, but failed to find any chemical reason for the problems associated with ‘pine-mouth’. Concluding that there were no significant differences in the content of pesticides or mycotoxines of nuts with and without the ‘metallic tastes’.

The statement from Fødevarestyrelsen claims that the Chinese pine nuts that can cause ‘pine mouth’ have a different fatty acid profile than 'genuine' pine nuts.

However, it is still uncertain whether the symptoms of ‘pine mouth’ are related to these differences in fatty acid content, or other substances.

Related topics: R&D, Fruit, vegetable, nut ingredients

Related news

Related products

show more

Product Recovery (Pigging) for Food Manufacturers

Product Recovery (Pigging) for Food Manufacturers

HPS Product Recovery Solutions | 25-Nov-2019 | Technical / White Paper

Sanitary product recovery ("pigging") is in wide use by food manufacturers that pump liquids or wet products.
It gives a high ROI and...

Celery Juice and the Health-Conscious Consumer

Celery Juice and the Health-Conscious Consumer

Florida Food Products | 25-Oct-2019 | Technical / White Paper

Celery juice is an on-trend beverage ingredient with sought-after health benefits. Given its popularity, it’s no surprise that celery juice is showing...

High Protein Snacks: Beyond the Protein Bar

High Protein Snacks: Beyond the Protein Bar

International Dehydrated Foods | 06-Mar-2019 | Technical / White Paper

As snacking becomes more of an ingrained part of the American diet, it will be increasingly important for snacks to deliver nutrition benefits, including...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more


View more