Published: Thu, August 03, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Blowing out candles can add 1400 percent more bacteria to cake

Blowing out candles can add 1400 percent more bacteria to cake

Blowing out birthday candles on a cake is one of those traditions that we all just do without really questioning why. To test aerosol transfer to cake, icing was spread evenly over foil then birthday candles were placed through the foil into a Styrofoam™ base.

Researchers from Clemson University in SC iced a circular piece of foil and placed it on top of a a styrofoam base to make a fake birthday cake.

While this doesn't mean you can't blow out the candles on a cake, researchers cautioned that illnesses related to pathogenic bacteria are a major public health concern in today's society.

On average, blowing out candles resulted in 15 times more bacteria on the icing than when candles were not blown out. At least that's the verdict from a recent study done at the Clemson University in SC. "We thought it might help the salivary glands get going".

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While the team expected a high number of bacteria, Dawson said he was surprised how it varied from blow to blow. You avoid the bacteria and the extra sugar.

Don't worry, cake-lovers. Dawson said that while our mouths are covered in a microbiome of bacteria, our germs are safe for the most part. In fact, it might even date back to Ancient Greece, meaning that people have been eating cake after someone blew the candles on top of it and nothing bad happened.

Speaking to The Atlantic, lead author of the study, Paul Dawson credits his teenage daughter for the idea and often engages his students in original scientific research. "In reality if you did this 100,000 times, then the chance of getting sick would probably be minimal", Dawson told the Atlantic.

So it looks like you can have your cake and eat it too.

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