I was cooking some organic black eyed peas earlier today and I found what appeared to be worms. I had the peas for about 1.5 weeks before I cooked them.

  • Is this common?
  • I did rinse the peas before cooking them, but clearly that wasn't enough. What steps can I take to prevent this (assuming this the norm for organic black eyed peas)
  • How long are these good for? (Should I eat them sooner?)
  • I had taken a few spoonfuls before I finally realized this -- should I be concerned?

enter image description here

I apologize for such an elementary question. I've recently been told by my physician that I need to make some diet changes, so I've been cooking with foods I would otherwise not eat.

  • 5
    Look more like bits of bean skin than worms. Dried beans should last for months/years before going bad. That said, insect pests can and do get into stored seeds. Rinse and sieve will get rid of most of them. The remainder are a good source of protein. Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 21:56
  • 7
    There are reports of vegetarian Southern Indians moving to the UK and developing pernicious anemia. Why? More stringent food standards, and therefore little to no bugs or larvae in the pulses and rices and vegetables they were eating. Moral: bugs in your food aren't only harmless, especially after being cooked, but they're nutritious!
    – goblinbox
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 18:59
  • 1
    They look just like the worms I found in my black beans, instead mine were moving. Omg... How did they survive the cooking process?!?!
    – Ezekieo
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 14:02

9 Answers 9


To take one concern away - practically none of the worm-looking parasites in food are dangerous. They are yucky, but harmless, even nutritious.

But as far as I can see it from the picture, these are not worms at all. Beans and related plants have an embryo in their seeds. In white legumes, the embryo is a light pink color and looks indeed like a larva. The way to check is to look at the still-intact beans. They are all made up of two symmetrical halves inside. Cut them open through the plane which separates the two halves. If they have your suspect at the concave part of the bean, where it used to attach to the pod, then this is the embryo, just a normal part of the seed which is supposed to grow into a new plant when planted.

If the embryo of multiple beans looks differently from that (or is too small to notice), then these may be larvae after all. In this case, you will probably choose to discard the food because of the disgust factor. It is still not objectively unsafe.

  • 3
    I agree, they appear to have "sprouted" - did you leave them sitting around overnight after you rinsed them? No worms, that has happened to me more than once.
    – user19182
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 20:05
  • 7
    I have frequently had this in perfectly kept, unsprouted white beans. This thing is a part of every bean, just like a stone is a part of every cherry. Its looks and size depend on the particular variety. But no need for the beans to sprout for it to be visible and pink.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 16:08

Internal Structure of a Seed

I have noticed the same thing that the OP asked about. I opened one of my soaking beans, and looked up some drawings; this is most likely part of the bean, not worms. The reason could be that the manufacturers harvested these beans a bit late, and the beans have started to sprout, similar to how potatoes behave after an extended duration.

  • 3
    Mamaghia, welcome to the site! Just to stay on the safe side: Could you please add the source of the image, unless you made it yourself?
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 21:22
  • 1
    I think this answer is a good contribution, because it visually shows the OP the most likely cause of these "foreign-looking objects". I have seen similar in most beans I have cooked or eaten. Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 15:09

Without taking anything away from Rumtscho's answer, in general with black eyed peas and other legumes, it is a good idea to sort through them prior to cooking.

Spread them out in a sheet pan (so they don't get away from you), and just go through. Remove any small stones, twigs, obviously malformed beans, and so on that you find. The modern automated producers have really good equipment that means this step may not be necessary, but you probably should still check for beans from smaller producers like organic brands.

If there were any worms or other creatures in your beans (at least larger ones), you would see them and remove them during the sorting process.

Then you can rinse, soak, or cook as per your normal procedures.


I am about to be 63 years old, and those years have been Georgia born and bred years ! Living on a farm, I cannot begin to count the amount of beans and peas I have eaten in my life. Your pot of beans looks VERY thoroughly cooked, to the point that the peas are seperating on their own and making their own "gravy". When that happens, the little white thing inside that would have become a new vine if the bean had been planted,floats loose when the peas or beans seperate. If you allow them to cook longer, very slowly, these will disintegrate and become part of the gravy; they are very delicate. Worms, on the other hand, are tinier and have what looks kind of like a black dot on the end, and are tough and resilient, more so, having been cooked. Dip out one of the white things and squuosh/swipe it between your thumb and forefinger. If it becomes the consistency of peanut butter, it is part of the bean. If it rolls, it is a worm.

  • 1
    Great test! (Squish the thing, if it is pb its bean, if it rolls, its worm.) This helped, Thank you!
    – milo
    Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 18:17

It looks like the beans have spouted. We have this problem in the tropics. High humidity. In your bean jar. Put in some polished rice. About a table spoon for 2 litter jar. Keep lid on. If from garden. Put beans on a black tarp in the sun. To dry more before storage. Or smoke the beans. Low heat.


Sorry to dispute the remarks But these look exactly like the worms I just found today in my chick peas and blackeyed peas....and it was crawling. I had the blackeyed peas couple of months but only 2 weeks for the chickpeas. Really grossed me out so I threw everything (all dry goods ) away.

  • 3
    No one is saying that the picture is absolutely NOT of worms, just that if they ARE worms, they're not going to kill a person that eats them.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 16:36

I believe the correct answer is a combination of all the answers above.ill Explain.Ive recently had the same thing happen to me with pinto beans and also white (great northern).Some of the particles could be dissolved easily and completely when rubbed between fingers,some on the other hand could not.No matter how hard we tried.Plus some had like they had a brown face and became thinner and smaller as we got closer to the end.Very discusting,but my mother says that is quite normal in her countryof origin and they just remove them or eat them and they do no harm.


Worms in dried beans most ordinarily come from eggs planted in the fruit when it's still blossoming on the vine. (The same way that worm got inside your apple.) Before buying dried beans, check them for "worms" (larvae) When you buy beans, immediately place the unopened bag in a (preferably chest) freezer for a week. Or if you buy bulk, put the beans in an airtight jar before freezing. Either way, that'll kill any eggs and/or larvae, and you'll never know they were there. Store unused dried beans in an airtight container. Especially in a humid climate, let beans reach room temperature after freezing and before opening, to avoid frosting or dampening.


They are worms. and they bite or sting our purple hull peas. and you break apart pea and there is a little white worm with little brown dot for head. and they are crawling.

  • 1
    Please do not repeat other answers
    – user34961
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 7:25