December 4, 2012
For immediate release
OTTAWA - Health Canada is advising parents and caregivers not to feed honey to infants less than one year of age. Honey is the only food in Canada to which infant botulism has been linked. Healthy children over one year of age can safely eat honey because they have a very low risk of developing infant botulism.
Infant botulism is caused by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which commonly exist in nature. Although the bacteria are unable to grow and produce toxins in honey, they may grow and produce toxins in the baby's body should an infant consume honey and could cause paralysis.
Since the first reported case in 1979, there have been 42 reported cases of infant botulism in Canada. Parents and caregivers can prevent infant botulism by never feeding honey to infants less than one year of age. This includes never adding honey to baby food and never using honey on a soother.
Most honey produced in Canada is not contaminated with the bacteria that cause infant botulism, however you are better off playing it safe.
The bacteria that cause botulism are microscopic and do not change the colour, odour or taste of food. The bacteria are not destroyed by cooking or pasteurization.
For more information on infant botulism and food safety, please visit: