Though VanGrowski says she threw away the offending pine nuts in a fit of anger and frustration, she says that she had checked first to see where they came from. Among three possible sources listed, China was among them.
The FDA is currently testing samples of those nuts that have spurred pine mouth, though no results from these test are currently available.
It's not often that people actually lose their sense of taste, Cowart says.
More often than not, people mistake a loss of smell for a loss of taste, as much of what we interpret as "flavor" is aided by the smell of a food.
"Taste is limited to sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory. A lot of what people refer to as taste is actually smell," she says.
But when taste itself is affected, it often has to do with the delicate balance of oral flora that keeps our mouth in check. This is why antibiotics, which can kill the natural, helpful bacteria in our saliva, can lead some to experience temporary changes in taste. One of the five or so "tastes" the tongue senses gets thrown out of whack. If bitter reigns, food will take on a metallic, bitter flavor, despite its inherent sweetness or tangy sourness.
Though these taste problems, as with pine mouth, are fortunately short-lived in most cases, they can be very difficult to live with, Cowart says.
"Food is such an important part of people's social life. It's really disruptive to not be able to enjoy it," she says. "Fortunately, these things tend to correct themselves in time."