Honey has numerous health benefits but does it pose any risks?

While honey is safe for healthy adults, it can be dangerous for infants. Therefore, infants under 12 months old must not eat honey.

All honey may contain tiny amounts of the spores of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria can cause botulism, which is a rare form of food poisoning that results in life-threatening paralysis (1, 2). As the body ages, the gut develops enough to stop the botulinum spores from growing. A baby’s digestive tract has not yet developed enough to fight off the bacteria so babies or children under the age of one should not consume honey.

However, botulism is very rare among healthy adults and older children. That said, if you experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea soon after eating raw honey, you should see your doctor immediately.

In rare cases, people who have a severe pollen allergy may react to raw honey, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Although rare, there have also been reports of allergic reactions ranging from rashes and hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock from both topically applied and ingested honey. People who have severe pollen or bee allergies should speak with a doctor or allergist before eating or using raw honey. (3, 4)

As honey contains sugar, it can contribute to tooth decay. Speak to your dentist or another health professional if you’re concerned about dental health. It is a good idea to avoid types of honey that contain added sugars.

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