Why can’t you give honey to under one year olds?

Everyone knows that children under one year of age should not be given honey, but not many people know why.

Although a delicious natural sweetner, honey carries a risk of botulism which can cause food poisoning which if not treated can result in death.  Botulinum spores are actually widely found throughout nature.  In fact, botulinum spores can appear in other sweeteners, such as maple syrup or corn syrup and can even be found in dust, indicating that it is an extremely widespread toxin.

As a result, most humans adapt to it and develop immunity.  Infants, however, do not have a completely matured digestive system and are susceptible to botulism food poisoning.  While honey does not always contain the spores, it is more likely to contain botulinum as it is a natural product and untreated.

You could give honey to an infant if it was pasteurised and there are one or two honey based cough remedies on the market that include pasteurised honey, but pasteurised honey is also crystallised as a result of the heat process making it unattractive to eat and as a result, it is hard to find.