Beware of Imported Pine Nuts - Trader Joe’s and others who sell pine nuts which create bitter tastes for days and weeks!
A food writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer came down with pine nut mouth over Christmas and I was horrified! She swore off ever eating pine nuts again and went on to write about pine nut mouth, reporting what is being reported all over the world.
I work with American Pine Nuts. They do not give people pine nut mouth. A lot of these cases of pine nut mouth come from Trader Joe's Pine Nuts . I am publically calling upon them to stop selling pine nuts until they can identify the source of this problem!! Costco is also as noted as a primary retailer for pine nuts causing the problem. To Costco's credit- the company has taken steps to understand - what is going on and fix it.
"The universities we've asked have all kind of gone, 'Humph. We know it's there, and we don't know why either,' " said Craig Wilson, assistant vice president of food safety at Costco's Issaquah, Wash., headquarters. "The FDA's bewildered. They're as bewildered as anybody else." The FDA has received about two dozen complaints about pine nuts in recent months, said Stephanie Kwisnek, an FDA press officer.(story 10.09 Baltimore Sun, "Asian Pine Nuts Leave Some in a Bitter Mood).
We stopped selling shelled imported pine nuts two years ago, because of this problem! We took a hit to our sales, because of our company integrity and commitment to pine nuts. Why haven't others who sell pine nuts stepped up to the plate? Could it be corporate greed? Or, its trivial to them- and the quaity of pine nuts is unimportant?
We had a quality assurance person from a semi- major grocer call us in November. Their in house tests ran 50% among the staff volunteeres and their CEO, Board Of Directors wanted answers. They were responsible food sellers and we are working on shelled pine nut products from United States Pine Nuts. I hope to work with that grocer. I liked those people and they were serious about their responsibility to provide healthy, wholesome foods.
The cause of pine nut mouth has not been identified. The The International Nut Council's Scientific Committee studied the problem , concluding it was mostlikely due to old pine nuts mixed in with new, or non-traditional food pine seeds mixed in with traditional pine nut kernels. However, people all over the world are swearing off eating pine nuts and the problem is continuing to grow. No wonder the problem is exanding, no one is taking any community action and the price of pine nuts went through the roof and processors are more tempted to mix in "left over's." There is no food tracing system for these imported pine nuts and no one seems very concerned that it is a food safety issue. (Your liver is telling you something when it make bitter bile.)
See our blog for tips for avoiding pine nut mouth or the bitter taste from imported pine nuts. Shelling American Soft shelled pine nuts is NOT difficult. Again, there has never been a case of pine nut mouth from American Pine Nuts!