Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause serious health issues. This has led many people to adopt a gluten-free diet, avoiding foods that contain gluten. For these individuals, knowing which foods are safe to eat is extremely important. One common food item that often raises questions is Heinz baked beans. In this article, we’ll take a thorough look at whether Heinz baked beans contain gluten.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. The two main proteins that make up gluten are:
When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form an elastic network that gives dough its stretchy and chewy texture. This makes gluten perfect for baking breads, cakes, cookies and other baked goods.
For most people, gluten poses no problems. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an abnormal immune response that damages the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten can cause issues. This is why a strict gluten-free diet is required to manage these conditions.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects around 1% of the population. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system attacks and damages the villi lining the small intestine.
Villi are tiny, finger-like projections that absorb nutrients from food. When they are damaged, the body is unable to properly absorb nutrients which can lead to symptoms like:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Over time, celiac disease can cause long-term complications like anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and other problems. The only treatment is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition where people experience digestive and other symptoms after eating gluten, but they do not have celiac disease. Around 6-7% of the population may have NCGS.
Symptoms are similar to celiac disease and may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Brain fog
The symptoms of NCGS usually resolve when switching to a gluten-free diet. However, the exact cause and treatment of this condition is still not very well understood.
Are Heinz Baked Beans Gluten-Free?
Now that we’ve looked at what gluten is and why people need to avoid it, let’s get to the main question: do Heinz baked beans contain gluten?
The simple answer is no, Heinz baked beans do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients.
According to Heinz, their classic baked beans are gluten-free. On each can of Heinz beans you will find a “gluten-free” label indicating the product is suitable for gluten-free diets.
Heinz baked beans are made from just a few ingredients:
- White beans
- Tomato sauce
None of these contain gluten. The white beans Heinz uses are navy beans or haricot beans which are naturally gluten-free legumes.
Other common questions people have about the gluten-free status of Heinz baked beans include:
Are all varieties of Heinz baked beans gluten-free?
Yes, all varieties of Heinz baked beans sold in the UK are certified gluten-free, including:
- Heinz Beanz in tomato sauce
- Heinz Beanz reduced sugar & salt
- Heinz Beanz no added sugar
- Heinz organic Beanz
- Heinz Beanz hoops
- Heinz Beanz shapes
- Heinz Beanz alphabet
- Heinz Beanz Snap Pots
- Heinz Beanz tin shapes and characters
The recipe is the same across all varieties – the ingredients are just shaped or flavored differently. But they all contain the same gluten-free navy beans, sauce and spices.
What about Heinz baked bean products like their sauces and canned pasta?
While the classic baked beans are gluten-free, some other Heinz bean products do contain gluten:
- Heinz Beanz pasta shapes in sauce – contains wheat pasta
- Heinz Seriously Good Mayochup – contains barley malt vinegar
- Heinz Seriously Good Mayocue – contains barley malt vinegar
- Heinz Burger Sauce – contains wheat flour
- Heinz Salad Cream – contains barley malt vinegar
So you just need to check the ingredients list on each product to confirm if it is gluten-free or not. Stick to the classic Heinz Beanz range and avoid the other bean-based products.
Are Heinz baked beans gluten-free in other countries?
Heinz baked beans sold in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are gluten-free. However, recipes can vary slightly in other countries, so you need to check the labels.
For example, some Heinz baked beans sold in the USA contain wheat flour. So the UK gluten-free status does not apply worldwide. Just because the recipe is gluten-free in one country does not mean it’s gluten-free everywhere.
Whenever you buy Heinz baked beans, always check the packaging in your local store. Don’t assume they are gluten-free based on information from other countries. Look for a “gluten-free” label to be 100% sure.
Precautions for Celiacs
While Heinz baked beans are gluten-free, people with celiac disease do need to take some precautions:
Check for cross-contamination
Even though the beans themselves don’t contain gluten, cross-contamination is still a risk in manufacturing. Heinz do test their products to ensure gluten levels are under 20ppm (the recognized gluten-free standard).
However, extremely sensitive celiacs should contact Heinz directly for the most up-to-date information to decide if the beans are safe for their level of sensitivity.
Check the facility
Heinz baked beans are produced in factories that also process wheat-containing foods. So there is a small chance of cross-contamination from shared equipment.
For celiacs highly sensitive to traces of gluten, it’s recommended to choose brands that are produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities when possible.
Don’t consume straight from the can
There is a small chance of cross-contamination from the can liner which contains wheat. To be extra safe, decant beans into a separate bowl before eating.
Following these precautions will help minimize any trace gluten risks for celiacs using Heinz baked beans.
Gluten-Free Bean Alternatives
While Heinz baked beans are suitable for most gluten-free diets, some celiacs prefer using alternate brands:
- Produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility
- Tested to contain less than 5ppm of gluten
- Available in Original and Hoops varieties
- Certified gluten-free
- Made in a gluten-free environment
- Vegan and organic
- Tested to be low FODMAP
- Monash certified
- Suitable for IBS diets
- Certified gluten-free
- Vegetarian formula with no meat
- Organic beans
These brands offer high-quality bean alternatives for gluten-free and sensitive diets. Check your local health food stores for availability.
Homemade Baked Beans
For the most control over ingredients, many gluten-free folks choose to make baked beans from scratch at home. This avoids any risk of cross-contamination.
Here is a simple stove-top recipe:
- 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
- 2 tbsp mustard
- 1 tsp each of salt, pepper, paprika
- Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onion and garlic until soft
- Add beans, sauce and all spices. Bring to a simmer.
- Cover and let simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Remove lid, stir in maple syrup and cook uncovered to thicken sauce.
- Adjust seasoning if needed. Enjoy!
You can swap different types of canned beans like cannellini or butter beans. Get creative with spices like chili powder, cumin or smoked paprika. Homemade allows you to customize the beans to suit your taste and diet.
So in summary, classic Heinz baked beans sold in the UK are labeled gluten-free and do not contain any gluten ingredients. For most gluten-free diets, Heinz baked beans are considered safe to eat.
However, precautions may be needed for those extremely sensitive, including:
- Checking production facilities
- Avoiding cross-contamination from the can
- Using alternate bean brands produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities
Making homemade baked beans is the safest option to control all ingredients and avoid trace gluten. But for most people on a gluten-free diet, store-bought Heinz baked beans are a convenient gluten-free option that can be enjoyed safely. Just check the label and look for the “gluten-free” confirmation on any new cans purchased.
Table Comparing Gluten-Free Bean Brands
|Heinz||Tested under 20ppm||Shared with gluten products||Original, shapes, reduced salt/sugar|
|Mrs Crimble’s||Tested under 5ppm||Dedicated gluten-free||Original, Hoops|
|Biona Organic||Certified gluten-free||Gluten-free environment||Original|
|Fodmap Friendly||Tested gluten-free||Unknown||Original|
|Amy’s Kitchen||Certified gluten-free||Unknown||Original vegetarian|
Heinz baked beans are a convenient gluten-free staple that are safe for most gluten-free diets. Always check the label when purchasing, as recipes can vary between countries. While considered gluten-free, some precautions may be needed for celiacs sensitive to trace amounts of gluten. Going with homemade baked beans or alternate brands in dedicated facilities are the safest options for those highly sensitive. But for most people avoiding gluten, classic Heinz baked beans can be enjoyed as part of a healthy gluten-free diet.