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One of the recommendations for enabling a young child to pick up some of the more slippery foods is to coat them with bread crumbs or graham cracker crumbs. While looking for graham crackers at the store, we found honey graham crackers. Considering that exposure to honey can cause infant botulism, I was wondering if the honey graham crackers are safe for him to eat?

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Whatever the answer is, I would strongly advice you to ask your pediatrician rather than seeking for medical advice on the Internet. – nico Jul 7 '11 at 19:06
@nico, definitely. This is just a sanity check prior to asking as the next appointment isn't for a month. – rcollyer Jul 7 '11 at 19:08
I wonder if the honey in a commercial product is processed to remove any botulism toxin. Maybe somebody from Nabisco will chime in, I don't see anything on their web site. – uncle brad Jul 7 '11 at 19:18
Is there actually real honey in them? Anyway the other ingredients are probably not very healthy. Put some plain oats in a food processor, and make crumbs from them. At least you know what's in it – TFD Jul 7 '11 at 23:45
@TFD: At least some brands of graham crackers say "made with real honey" on the box. – Jefromi Jul 8 '11 at 5:52
up vote 4 down vote accepted

That bit of the Wikipedia article is unsourced, but Health Canada confirms and says that spores may be present even in pasteurized honey. (I never would have thought that.)

I wouldn't expect the cooking of the crackers to damage the spores significantly more than the pasteurization. I can't say for sure that there will be live spores in the crackers, but it's a definite possibility and if you're concerned about this then you should not risk it.

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That's the whole point of spores :) They can resist to heat, cold, pressure, disinfectant, UV, time etc etc! A very smart way of surviving if you ask me. – nico Jul 8 '11 at 6:42
This is actually the type of information that I was looking for. Thanks. – rcollyer Jul 8 '11 at 21:25

You say "toddler" and not "infant", which leads me to believe that you"re referring to a child that's at least one. At least in Canada, the honey prohibition is only for children sub 12 months. In which case, yes, it is safe to feed a toddler honey.

Either way, lots of sugar in Graham crackers. Try panko; my kids love It crusted on pretty much anything.

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Since the toxin producing spores need a moist environment to germinate and cooking destroys any residual toxin that may have existed in the honey prior to processing, I would say honey graham crackers are safe for kids.

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Please check the article again. The moist environment is the infant's intestines. In adults, the established microbes will outcompete botulism spores, but this is not yet the case in toddlers. That's why they are specifically vulnerable to botulism spores. – MSalters Jul 8 '11 at 13:33
According to the CDC the temperatures achieved by a pressure cooker are sufficient for neutralizing spores in a low acid canning application. Other sources quote the required temperature for killing the spores between 240-250 degrees. I would think a cracker would reach this temperature during high heat industrial baking, but I wasn't able to find a source confirming this. – AaronN Jul 8 '11 at 16:31
You might want to specify degrees F or C. 240°F sounds too low to kill spores, and 240°C sounds far too hot. The sugars in honey would dissociate, not to mention a lot of other complex organic compounds. – MSalters Jul 11 '11 at 9:24
It was degrees Fahrenheit. – AaronN Aug 23 '11 at 18:28

Botulism spores can exist in many places that your baby could come into contact with including soil and dust. This by no means implies that you should keep your baby away from soil and dust (you wouldn't be able to anyway) but it does indicate that babies need to develop immunities to these spores rather quickly. Honey is known for having a higher content of these spores, especially raw honey and should generally be kept away from babies under 1 year. However, there is a history of giving tiny amounts of honey to infants.

All of this being said, you must take into account the health of your baby's immune system when dealing with something like honey. The safe bet is to avoid it but tiny amounts are probably safe for a child with a strong immune system. The older he is, the more immunities he's built up so it's a subjective decision on your part.

1 year seems like the magic number, however...if he's under 1 year, avoid it. If he's over 1 year, you're probably safe.

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