Is Karo Syrup Safe for Babies?

Reviewed on 5/21/2022
what is karo syrup
Karo syrup is not suitable for babies due to its ineffectiveness at relieving constipation and its potential for containing botulism-causing bacteria.

Health professionals do not recommend giving Karo or any other commercially available corn syrup to babies.

In the past, dark corn syrup was given to infants suffering from constipation, since at the time, it contained substances that softened stool by drawing water into the gut, thus relieving the condition. However, modern-day commercially available corn syrup may not have that same chemical nature, making these syrups, such as Karo, ineffective at relieving constipation.

Furthermore, there are also concerns that corn syrups may contain botulism-causing bacteria. Although this has not been proven yet, it is better to take your doctor’s advice. Botulism in infants can result in serious symptoms that may require hospitalization, such as

  • muscle weakness,
  • trouble breathing,
  • floppiness, and
  • a weak cry.

Thus, it is recommended to seek your doctor’s advice before giving corn syrup or Karo to treat your infant’s constipation. In older babies, giving enough fluid along with dietary changes may help, although some newborns may require a glycerin suppository.

What are the ingredients of Karo syrup?

Karo syrup is a popular brand of corn syrup, which is obtained from corn starch that is derived from maize. It is a concentrated solution of several sugars, such as glucose (dextrose), derived from corn starch. Because of various sugars, corn syrup has a naturally mild sweet taste.

Karo is available in two broad varieties: Karo light and Karo dark corn syrup. Karo light corn syrup is a clear and colorless liquid with a moderately sweet taste. It contains a mixture of corn syrup that is flavored with salt and vanilla.

Karo dark corn syrup appears deep brown and is made up of a mixture of corn syrup along with a small amount of refiners' syrup, which is a type of molasses that gives dark corn syrup its deep color and flavor. To provide its distinctive taste, other additives, such as caramel flavor, salt, sodium benzoate (a preservative), and caramel color, are added.

Is Karo corn syrup the same as high fructose corn syrup?

Although both corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are derived from corn starch, they are not the same. High-fructose corn syrup is a sweet liquid obtained after enzyme treatment that converts some of the glucose in corn syrup to fructose (a simple sugar like glucose). High-fructose corn syrup is called so because it contains fructose in a higher concentration compared to corn syrup. The exact concentration of fructose may vary in different formulations, but most formulas contain either 42 (called HFCS 42) or 55 (called HFCS 55) percent fructose, the rest being glucose and water.

Is Karo syrup gluten-free?

According to their official website, Karo syrup is gluten-free. It does not contain added gluten and is not made in a facility processing gluten-containing food.

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References
Drugs.com. "Corn Syrup for Constipation: OK for Babies?" <https://www.drugs.com/mcf/corn-syrup-for-constipation-ok-for-babies>.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "High Fructose Corn Syrup Questions and Answers." <https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/high-fructose-corn-syrup-questions-and-answers>.

Karo. FAQs. <https://www.karofoodservice.com/faq>.

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