Botulism in Honey
It is possible, although rare, for honey to contain botulism toxins. Because of this potential, children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey; however, it is perfectly safe for people 1 year of age and older.
Botulism is a rare but serious illness that is caused by toxins (poisons) produced by specific bacteria (Clostridium botulinum). In severe cases, botulism can lead to paralysis or death.
There are several types of botulism (see Botulism Types). One type of botulism is called infant botulism. This is caused when an infant consumes the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the baby's intestines and release toxins.
A number of cases of infant botulism have been associated with eating honey contaminated with botulism bacteria.
California researchers have isolated botulism bacteria spores from about 10 percent of store-bought honey samples.
Less than 5 percent of patients with infant botulism contract the disease from honey.
Because honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum and this has been a source of botulism in infants, children younger than 12 months old should not be fed honey. Honey is perfectly safe for people 1 year of age and older.
(Click Infant Botulism to learn more about this condition.)