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I was getting tea today and noticed those cute little honey packets made by Heinz. At the bottom of the packet it says: DO NOT FEED TO CHILDREN UNDER 12 MONTHS OLD - why?

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    Hi, and welcome to the site. Good question! Please have a look around the help section and mata to get a flavor of the site. :) – anongoodnurse Dec 14 '15 at 23:09
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    Other comments have addressed the main reason (risk of botulism) but the other reason is that there's no benefit to giving children added sugar, and there are some risks (for healthy eating, and when they have teeth for dental hygiene). – user19912 Dec 15 '15 at 11:28
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Honey is not recommended at all for babies under one year of age because of the risk of infant botulism. The risk isn't big, but if it happens, it can be life-threatening. Avoiding honey until the child is older is an easy way to prevent this.

To protect your baby from infant botulism:

  • Don't offer honey. Wild honey is a potential source of C. botulinum spores. Avoid giving honey — even a tiny taste — to babies under the age of 1 year

Source: Mayo Clinic

As Stephie points out, the spores are very heat-resistant and require heating to more than water's boiling point to kill.

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    @KingsInnerSoul and YviDe, you are confusing the live organisms and spores here. You'd have to reach 120C (yes, hotter than boiling water!) to kill the spores and be safe for babies! (cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/64176/…) – Stephie Dec 14 '15 at 22:32
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    @Stephie right! They might reactivate and reproduce in the gastrointestinal tract. (deleting comment so as to not confuse anyone) – YviDe Dec 14 '15 at 22:35
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    @KingsInnerSoul - I had wondered about that as well. Apparently heating honey to a certain point breaks down certain attributes, like preservation, which may well defeat much of the benefits of honey. It's possible it's more cost effective for the company to put a warning on the package than to heat it and add some kind of preservative that would be removed from the heating process. – Kai Qing Dec 15 '15 at 0:07
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    @KingsInnerSoul Heated honey is a dead honey, it's less tasty and contains less nice stuff. This is true in general, a lot of food does lose qualities by heating. – yo' Dec 15 '15 at 13:16
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    @PeterA.Schneider - From your own source: Honey is the one dietary reservoir of C. botulinum spores thus far definitively linked to infant botulism by both laboratory and epidemiologic evidence. If you don't like this answer, a better alternative to arguing in comments is to answer the question (with references would be ideal.) Thanks! :) – anongoodnurse Dec 15 '15 at 23:33
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Botulism spores are one of the very few things that can survive in honey, and even then, they can only do it by becoming totally inactive. In an adult, stomach acid will destroy those spores, and normal gut microbes will eliminate any that survive to reach the small intestine

An infant's stomach isn't acidic enough to do the job, and their intestinal microflora haven't fully developed yet. Because of this, it's possible for those spores to become active in the small intestine, leading to infant botulism.

(Adult botulism is caused when botulism bacteria grow in improperly-preserved food, producing botulism toxin. Cooking kills the bacteria, but does not destroy the toxin.)

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    I like your links. That second link is especially useful! – user19912 Dec 15 '15 at 11:29

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