Please never feed honey to children under one year old because honey is the only food in Canada linked to infant botulism, a serious disease. This includes never adding honey to baby food and never using honey on a soother.

Infant botulism is caused by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which can’t grow or make toxins in honey, but if an infant swallows honey, the spores in the bacteria may grow and produce toxins in the baby’s body and could cause paralysis.

“Bees may pick up the botulism spores from flowers or soil and the spores are not destroyed in the processing of honey. After the age of one, children’s intestinal bacteria successfully prevent growth of C. botulinum.”

Please click here for Public Health Agency of Canada’s page on Botulism.

The bacteria is not destroyed by cooking.

Furthermore, you cannot detect this bacteria and its toxin because they are microscopic and do not change the colour, odour or taste of food.

There have been 38 reported cases of infant botulism in Canada between 1979 and 2010.

If your infant does ingest honey, immediately contact your doctor if your child shows any of these symptoms:

  • Is too weak to cry or suck as usual;
  • Does not have bowel movements and has weak muscles;
  • Has a wobbly head because the neck is weak;
  • Lacks facial expression;
  • Has weak arms and legs;
  • Has trouble breathing, or
  • Is not able to swallow.

Please click here for “Food Safety Facts on Botulism.”

Please Prevent Infant Botulism by NEVER FEEDING HONEY to Children Under One Year of Age

Please Prevent Infant Botulism by NEVER FEEDING HONEY to Children Under One Year of Age

Creative Commons License photo credit: bichxa

Health Canada /  Santé Canada

Preventing Botulism in Infants

March 28, 2011
For immediate release

OTTAWA Health Canada is advising parents and caregivers not to feed honey to children under one year old. 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 a serious disease that can affect children who are less than one year old. Infant botulism is caused by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which commonly exists in nature. The bacteria can’t grow or make toxins in honey, but if an infant swallows honey, the spores in the bacteria may grow and produce toxins in the baby’s body and could cause paralysis.

The bacteria and toxin that cause botulism are microscopic and do not change the colour, odour or taste of food. The bacteria is not destroyed by cooking.

In Canada, there have been 38 reported cases of infant botulism between 1979 and 2010. Parents and caregivers can prevent infant botulism by never feeding honey to children under one year of age. This includes never adding honey to baby food and never using honey on a soother.

Symptoms of Infant Botulism

If your infant does ingest honey, immediately contact your doctor if your child shows any of these symptoms:

  • Is too weak to cry or suck as usual;
  • Does not have bowel movements and has weak muscles;
  • Has a wobbly head because the neck is weak;
  • Lacks facial expression;
  • Has weak arms and legs;
  • Has trouble breathing, or
  • Is not able to swallow.

More information, including Health Canada’s advice regarding infant botulism, can be found in the It’s Your Health article on Infant Botulism.

For more information on infant botulism and food safety, please visit:

Government of Canada’s Tip Sheet on Infant Botulism

Public Health Agency of Canada’s page on Botulism

Food Safety Facts on Botulism

Public Enquiries:
(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709

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Please note that at the time of posting this blog the links for It’s Your Health article on Infant Botulism and Government of Canada’s Tip Sheet on Infant Botulism will only take us to HTTP Error 404 – Not Found messages.

 

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