What canned black beans are gluten-free?

Quick Answer

Most canned black beans are naturally gluten-free. Look for brands that specifically state “gluten-free” on the label to be sure. Some varieties with flavorings or sauces may contain gluten. Plain canned black beans, rinsed before use, are a safe gluten-free option.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, and more. The only treatment is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.

Why Check if Canned Beans Are Gluten-Free?

Beans are naturally gluten-free. However, during processing, canned beans can come into contact with gluten-containing ingredients.

Potential sources of gluten include:

  • Flour or wheat derivatives used for processing aids
  • Malt vinegar containing barley
  • Flavorings or seasonings with glutenous grains
  • Shared equipment with gluten-containing products
  • Cross-contamination during harvesting, transportation or manufacturing

For people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, it is essential to check all ingredient lists, even for foods that seem intrinsically gluten-free. Consuming even small amounts of hidden gluten can trigger symptoms, so vigilance is necessary.

What to Look for When Buying Canned Beans

When purchasing canned beans, read labels carefully and look for:

  • A “gluten-free” statement – This indicates the product has been tested to verify less than 20ppm of gluten.
  • No wheat, barley, rye or malt ingredients – Avoid beans with flavorings containing glutenous grains or malt vinegar.
  • No statements about shared equipment – Beans processed on shared equipment with wheat are more likely to have cross-contamination.
  • Reputable gluten-free brands – Companies that cater to gluten-free diets often have strict protocols to avoid cross-contamination.

Ideally, choose plain canned beans with only single ingredients like “black beans” and “water.” Then rinse thoroughly before use to remove any residual starch.

Are Goya Black Beans Gluten-Free?

Goya, a popular Latin food brand, states that their canned black beans are gluten-free.

On their website, Goya confirms that all their canned bean products are gluten-free, including:

  • Black Beans
  • Black Beans with Cuban Style Sofrito
  • Black Bean Soup

Goya’s canned beans are prepared on dedicated equipment in a separate gluten-free facility. Their products are tested to verify gluten levels below 10ppm.

So Goya’s plain canned black beans, as well as their flavored varieties, are labeled gluten-free and safe for gluten-free diets when consumed in moderation. Those with celiac disease or sensitivity should still take care to rinse beans before use to remove any residual starch.

Are Bush’s Best Black Beans Gluten-Free?

Bush’s Best black beans typically do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients. However, Bush’s has made conflicting statements about possible cross-contamination with wheat in their facilities.

On Bush’s FAQ page, they state:

“Most Bush’s products are made in facilities that also process wheat and wheat dust is in the air. For this reason, we don’t label our products gluten-free.”

However, on some Bush’s products, including their black beans, they include an “America’s #1 Choice for Gluten-Free Foods” logo.

When reached for comment, Bush’s said the gluten-free label is based on the ingredients only. They cannot guarantee no cross-contamination with wheat-based products during manufacturing.

So individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use caution with Bush’s beans, even if labeled gluten-free, due to the risk of trace amounts of gluten. For those with less sensitivity, Bush’s beans are likely safe in moderation if rinsed before use.

Are Kroger and Other Private Label Black Beans Gluten-Free?

It depends. Some private label black beans, like Kroger brand, state “gluten-free” on the packaging, indicating testing has been done to verify gluten levels below 20ppm.

However, many private label canned beans make no claims about gluten. In this case, it’s impossible to know if cross-contamination occurred during manufacturing without calling the company.

To identify truly gluten-free private label canned beans, look for a clear “gluten-free” statement on the label. Or verify their status by contacting the store brand customer service. Don’t assume gluten-free status without confirmation.

Some private label black beans clearly labeled “gluten-free” include:

  • Kroger – Black Beans, Low Sodium Black Beans
  • Trader Joe’s – Black Beans
  • 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) – No Salt Added Black Beans
  • Kirkland (Costco) – Organic Black Beans

Again, rinse all canned beans thoroughly before eating to remove any residual starch that could be contaminated.

Are Eden Organic Black Beans Gluten-Free?

Yes, Eden Organic brand canned black beans are certified gluten-free to less than 5ppm.

Eden’s website confirms that all their canned beans are gluten-free and vegan. They are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

Eden Foods takes care to avoid cross-contamination with gluten. Their black beans contain only organic black beans and water, free of any questionable added ingredients.

So Eden Organic black beans are among the safest choice for gluten-free diets. Just remember to thoroughly rinse beans before use to remove any residual bean starch.

Are Amy’s Organic Beans Gluten-Free?

Amy’s Kitchen offers several varieties of canned beans, including organic black beans. According to Amy’s FAQ page:

“All Amy’s beans are gluten free to 20 ppm.”

Their black beans contain only organic black beans and water. They are prepared on dedicated equipment at their gluten-free facility.

So Amy’s organic black beans are a reliable gluten-free choice. Rinsing the beans before use provides extra assurance by removing any traces of starch.

Are Walmart, Target and Other Generic Brands of Black Beans Gluten-Free?

Generic brands of canned black beans sold at stores like Walmart and Target often do not specify if they are gluten-free or processed in a facility with wheat.

Without a definitive “gluten-free” label, it is impossible to know if cross-contamination with gluten occurred during manufacturing. Traces of gluten could come from:

  • Shared equipment with wheat-based products
  • Manufacturing lines processing wheat
  • Wheat flour used as an anti-caking agent

To avoid uncertainty, check generic canned bean labels closely for:

  • A “gluten-free” claim
  • Single-ingredient beans without flavorings
  • Reputable store brands known to be gluten-free

When in doubt, contact the store brand customer service to inquire about their gluten testing process and policies. Don’t assume gluten-free status without verification.

Which Brands of Canned Black Beans Are Unsafe for Gluten-Free Diets?

Avoid canned black beans with added ingredients that likely contain gluten, like:

  • Malt vinegar
  • Wheat flour or starch
  • Barley or rye flavorings

Also be cautious with canned beans processed by brands that issue warnings about the risk of cross-contamination with wheat-based products, like Bush’s.

Some specific varieties of canned black beans that likely contain gluten or do not guarantee gluten-free include:

  • Bush’s Best Black Beans in Chili Sauce
  • Goya Black Beans with Bacon and Onions
  • Store brands with no gluten-free label

Unless canned beans are clearly labeled “gluten-free,” it is best to avoid them or verify their status by contacting the manufacturer if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Should You Rinse Canned Beans Before Eating?

Yes, rinsing canned beans thoroughly before eating is recommended as an extra precaution for gluten-free diets.

This helps remove any residual starch or manufacturing debris that could potentially contain traces of gluten from cross-contamination.

To properly rinse canned beans:

  1. Drain beans into a colander and shake off excess liquid.
  2. Rinse beans for at least 30 seconds under cool running water, swirling gently.
  3. Drain beans well after rinsing.
  4. Repeat rinsing 2-3 more times for best results.

Rinsing also helps reduce the “tinny” taste that can come from the canning liquid. Just be sure to thoroughly drain and dry beans after rinsing to remove excess moisture before cooking.

How to Cook Rinsed Canned Black Beans

Rinsed canned black beans are ready to use in any recipe without pre-cooking. Here are some tips:

  • For soups or added to cooked grains, add beans directly to the dish about 10 minutes before serving.
  • To make refried beans, fry rinsed beans in olive oil with onions and spices until desired consistency.
  • For salads or sides, drain any excess liquid after rinsing and add beans to fresh veggies.
  • Mash rinsed beans with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil for quick bean dip or spread.
  • Purée beans with broth for thick, creamy black bean soup.

Rinsed canned beans hold up well to simmering, baking or microwaving without going mushy. Adjust cooking times as recipes direct.

Are Canned Beans Healthy?

Yes, when prepared properly, canned beans provide many nutritional benefits:

  • High in protein – About 15g protein per 1 cup serving.
  • High in fiber – About 15g fiber per serving to promote digestion.
  • Low glycemic index – Help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Iron, potassium, magnesium – Provide minerals and reduce fatigue.
  • Folate – Essential for cell growth and development.
  • Antioxidants – Help lower inflammation and disease risk.

Choose low-sodium or no salt added beans and rinse before eating to further reduce any added salt from canning.

Overall, plain canned beans offer a quick, gluten-free way to add valuable nutrition to your diet when paired with healthy whole foods.

Are Canned Beans Safe for People with Gluten Intolerance?

Canned beans that are certified gluten-free are generally safe for most people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, some with gluten intolerance may still react negatively to even trace cross-contamination under 20ppm.

People with celiac disease must adhere to a strict gluten-free diet with no exceptions. Consuming even small hidden sources of gluten can cause intestinal damage.

Those with gluten sensitivity not rising to the level of full celiac disease have more leeway. Small amounts of cross-contamination under 20ppm may be tolerated with no symptoms.

However, negative effects can accumulate over time. Sticking to beans verified as gluten-free is ideal for gluten-sensitive individuals as well. Thorough rinsing provides extra assurance.

It’s also possible to have sensitivities to other compounds in beans. Try eliminating beans for a period to see if symptoms improve, then reintroduce them while monitoring reactions. This can identify if beans should also be limited.

Can You Cook Dry Beans Instead of Using Canned?

Yes, cooking dry beans from scratch eliminates any risk of gluten cross-contamination during manufacturing. But canned beans offer convenience benefits:

Pros of Canned Beans

  • No pre-soaking or long cooking times
  • Shelf-stable and quick to prepare
  • Lower cost compared to dry
  • Uniform texture – less splitting or blowouts

Pros of Dry Beans

  • Lower sodium
  • No can lining exposure
  • Better flavor and texture
  • More varieties available

Choose dry beans to maximize nutrition and flavor. Opt for rinsed canned beans when you need convenience. Combining both types gives flexibility for any recipe.

The Bottom Line

Plain canned black beans with a “gluten-free” label are a safe, convenient option on a gluten-free diet, especially when rinsed before eating. But always check labels thoroughly and look for gluten-free verification to avoid potential cross-contamination with wheat-based ingredients. For maximum assurance, choose reputable brands that specifically cater to gluten-free diets or cook dry beans from scratch. With a few precautions, canned beans can be an affordable gluten-free pantry staple.

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