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Using This Appliance To Cook Beans Can Cause Food Poisoning, Says Science

Millions of home cooks swear by this pot, but few are familiar with a common danger.
Beans

From the air fryer to the Instant Pot (with all its genius hacks), so many modern countertop appliances have made life in the kitchen a breeze. However, a report this week revealed that one classic and widely beloved appliance comes with a very specific danger that has rarely been discussed. Here's the easy way to avoid it.

Slow cookers, like the Crockpot, have been convenient kitchen time-savers for decades. Think of stews, roasts, mulled wine, and desserts: It seems like there's nothing you can't throw in the slow cooker to let it cook all day and serve to smiles later. But Food Safety News offered an important caution this week: If you use your slow cooker for a bean dish like chili (and who doesn't?), there's an extremely important step you should take to help prevent food poisoning.

Read on to learn how not to get food poisoning from cooking beans in your slow cooker.

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It starts with lectin.

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FSN explains that kidney beans and other legumes contain a protein called lectin, which are at times found at high levels in the legumes' seeds. These lectins may exist as the plant's natural defense against pathogens and pests.

RELATED: 13 Healthy Legume & Grain Alternatives To Traditional Pasta

Here's what makes lectins dangerous.

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FSN says the Food and Drug Administration (with their helpful food safety tips) has explained that lectin can be a danger to humans and other mammals because, put simply, it can disrupt the process of healthy chemical reactions within the cells, especially red blood cells whose main function is to carry oxygen throughout the body.

There's a critical temperature point to destroy lectins.

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It's said that if cooked under 212 degrees Fahrenheit, legumes such as kidney beans fail to reach the point where possible toxic lectins are destroyed. Unfortunately, in some slow cookers, legumes may not reach that temperature—says FSN: "Studies of casseroles cooked in slow cookers revealed that the food only reached internal temperatures of 75 degrees C (167 degrees F) or less."

RELATED: This Trick Will Make Your Beans Taste Better

The lectin-destroying solution is simple.

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Fortunately, the way to avoid slow cooker food poisoning from legumes is relatively easy. Experts have suggested boiling the beans for 30 minutes on the stove to ensure they reach 212 degrees internally before adding them to the slow cooker to simmer with the rest of the dish.

One more tip…

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Note this caution largely applies if your beans are totally uncooked. If you bought them canned, then they've been cooked—which may lessen your chances of slow cooker food poisoning.

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The season of effortless food prep is almost here—don't miss Doing This With Pasta May Actually Make It Deadly, Science Says. (Super important ahead of picnic season!)

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more