Raw honey and Botulism: Can raw honey cause botulism in infants and kids?

Botulism , commonly known as infantile paralysis disease , has been around for centuries too. However, according to studies, humans get infected with this life-threatening disease only by ingesting foods that are either contaminated or naturally low in acidity (such as honey).

Honey is susceptible to contamination with the spores of Clostridium botulinum, a spore forming bacterium which can survive even at temperatures of up to 114°F (45°C) and pH levels lower than 4.5.

The source of food contamination comes from soil or plants that come into contact with the bacterial spores during growth; however, this does not pose any harm unless the spores find their way into raw honey. Once raw honey is consumed, they germinate and produce toxin inside our intestines.

Botulism poisoning has multiple signs including double vision , dysarthria , dysphagia , and progressively worsening paralysis in the body. Because unprocessed honey is not heat-treated , it can contain spores of C. Botulinum .

It has been estimated that for every 0.1 milligram of botulinum toxin that enters your system, you would experience paralytic symptoms similar to what you would feel if exposed to only 4 nanograms (ng) of pure botulinum toxin type A. As a result, researchers have placed honey on the list of potential sources for infantile intoxication.

Despite its toxicity , children are frequently exposed to this substance without any consequences since their intestinal microflora provides some degree of protection against Clostridium bacteria.

This explains why children are more prone to foodborne diseases than adults. This is not the case for all children, however; there are cases where honey intoxication led to death of the child without any premonitory signs.

So if unprocessed honey can poison infants, it would be safe to assume that its toxicity will increase as an adult's age increases. Luckily, scientists have conducted thorough research regarding this topic and concluded that even in high doses (more than 32 milligrams per kilogram of body weight), only 0.005% of the population is at risk of developing botulism poisoning after consuming raw honey.

Thus, chances that an average person will develop botulism poisoning via raw honey are near negligible (about 1 chance in 20 million).