Don’t Blow Out Your Birthday Candles, Says Science

Don’t Blow Out Your Birthday Candles, Says Science

You won’t admit it, but we’re sure you’ve got some pretty nasty food habits. From the five-second-rule to interpreting best before dates as mere suggestions, we’ll all err to the side of questionable in the pursuit of sustenance.

Blowing out the birthday candles on a cake wouldn’t make most lists – what’s nasty about that, right? But according to science, we ought to.

A new study has proven that blowing out birthday candles increases bacteria on the cake by 1,400 percent! That’s just wrong.

The study, aptly named “Bacterial Transfer Associated with Blowing Out Candles on a Birthday Cake,” was conducted by food safety professors at Clemson University. The researchers analyzed “the potential spread of bacteria”, when extinguishing candles with our breath, testing to see what happens after partiers consumed some hot, greasy pizza, and then made a wish for their next year on earth.


Related: Is ‘Beard Bacteria’ the Answer to Antibacterial-Resistant Germs?

In addition to the 1,400% spike in bacteria, the researchers added, “[due] to the transfer of oral bacteria to icing by blowing out birthday candles, the transfer of bacteria and other microorganisms from the respiratory tract of a person blowing out candles to food consumed by others is likely.”

Interestingly, some participants in the study transferred almost no bacteria, while others were…more generous.

Paul Dawson, a Clemson University professor of food safety, told The Atlantic that “some people blow on the cake and they don’t transfer any bacteria. Whereas you have one or two people who really for whatever reason…transfer a lot of bacteria.”

He does admit that he doesn’t believe it’s a major health concern: “…in reality if you did this 100,000 times, then the chance of getting sick would probably be very minimal.”

We think that if the candle blower isn’t hacking and wheezing all over the place, the chances of contracting something via germs is slim.

But, it’s difficult to eat a cake that’s been blown on, now that we know so much. We apologize if we’ve ruined birthday cakes forever for you – you can share the fruit platter we’ve decided to stick to instead.

Photo Credit: nito/BigStock; denisfilm/BigStock

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