Between July 1976 and February 1989, 50 incidents of suspected red kidney bean poisoning were reported in the UK. Nine incidents in which nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea developed within 1-7 h of ingestion, were confirmed by the detection of haemagglutinin in the beans. The diagnosis was made on a further 23 incidents on the basis of symptoms, incubation time and the description of preparation of beans prior to consumption. The haemagglutinin (lectin), which occurs naturally in the red kidney bean, is inactivated by thorough cooking of well soaked beans. In many of the outbreaks reported the implicated beans were consumed raw or following an inadequate heat process.