When to Avoid Honey
Honey is the one identified and avoidable food reservoir of C. botulinum, the bacterial spore that causes infant botulism. While most cases of infant botulism today are not caused by exposure to honey prior to illness, it is the only avoidable source of exposure to the bacteria. By a process of exclusion (testing over the years of hundreds of foods, beverages, and other items placed in infants' mouth with negative results), it was concluded that most infant botulism patients acquired their spores by swallowing microscopic dust particles on which the spores travel.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) prepared an informative brochure to increase awareness of avoiding feeding honey to infants under one year of age. The pamphlet is not copyrighted and CDPH encourages any and all interested parties to download, print, and distribute this brochure. To download this educational pamphlet (in PDF format) regarding avoidance of honey during the first year of life, click on a link below:

No Honey brochure (English version, updated December 2021)
No Honey brochure (Spanish version, updated December 2021)
My infant was fed honey. What should I do?
Please refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics best practice guidelines regarding feeding solids to infants (click here).

Although honey is a known food vehicle for the bacteria that causes infant botulism, we typically don’t consider an individual honey exposure to be overly risky for acquiring the bacteria that causes infant botulism. Honey is the one dietary reservoir of C. botulinum spores thus far definitively linked to infant botulism by both laboratory and epidemiologic evidence. However, that said, not every jar of honey has botulinum spores in it. To date, avoiding feeding honey to infants 12 months of age or less is the only known prevention measure for infant botulism.

If, in the next few weeks you believe your infant is exhibiting the signs and symptoms of infant botulism, please reach out to your pediatrician.