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Honey Risk

A reader worries about the risk of feeding honey to her baby


I’ve been told not to feed my baby honey until he is at least 12 months old. Is powdered honey ok? We have honey powder as a flavouring in natural yoghurt.


Honey can contain spores, like seeds, of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum.

The bacteria produce a toxin that can cause paralysis of respiratory muscles in babies.

Older children and adults can eat honey that contains these spores without developing any health problems.

There is a very small risk that a few spores could be present in dried honey. So yogurt flavoured with honey powder could contain live Clostridium.

However, the chance that they would proliferate and cause botulism when the sweetened yogurt is consumed is small.

Zero risk is impossible to achieve but honey sweetened yogurt, either homemade or commercial, has an extremely low risk.

The fear of harming a small baby is hard to overcome completely, because their digestive system and protective microbial flora is not fully developed.

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