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Pine Nuts Aftertaste Phenomenon

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Reports of a recent phenomenon involving the consumption of pine nuts originating in China have shown that some people who have consumed pine nuts have experienced a bitter aftertaste one to two days after eating the pine nuts. This bitter aftertaste usually disappears after a few days, but has also been reported to last for as long as two weeks. Whilst this is a taste issue, there are no apparent food safety risks to consumers’ health associated with consuming these pine nuts. Only a small number of people have contacted the FSAI to report the reaction. The FSAI is aware that consumers in other European countries have also reported similar symptoms. 

This phenomenon was investigated by the Poisons Centre in Belgium in 2001, but it was unable to detect the cause for the bitter aftertaste some people have experienced. Batches shown to cause the bitter aftertaste and batches giving no effects were compared and no chemical differences could be found to which the bitter aftertaste could be attributed.

Consumers who have experienced an unusual aftertaste post consumption of pine nuts should not be concerned about any health risk. The FSAI is currently assessing and investigating this further and will continue to monitor reports. The FSAI has also informed retailers of the situation.