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Who doesn’t like cake….and germs at birthday parties. Yikes! Think again before you go candle-blowing on your next birthday.
‘Happy birthday’ just took on a whole new meaning – birthday cake in particular. Were you, maybe as a child, told to make sure to blow really hard so you’d get all the candles in one go? Turns out, that’s super unhygienic. Unless you like saliva-encrusted cake frosting, that is.
A new study, conducted by scientists from Clemson University in South Carolina and published in the Journal of Food Research, has revealed that blowing out the candles on a cake could increase the bacteria on the icing by up to…wait for it…1400 per cent! Yes, 1,400!
For the study, the authors created a birthday party like atmosphere, complete with a tin cake and pizza-eating party-goers. The researchers created a mock cake with a piece of polystyrene foam wrapped in foil, and candles on top. The participants were told to smell and eat a slice of pizza, which is typical party food, so that the salivary glands in the mouth would be activated and bacteria would be introduced. They were then asked to blow out the candles. The researchers then collected the bacteria from the tin foil and studied them. This entire exercise was done thrice, with a total of 11 participants, on separate days.
In most cases, the amount of bacteria went up by 15 times, but in one particular case, it went up by 120 times! “Some people blow on the cake and they don’t transfer any bacteria. Whereas you have 1 or 2 people who really for whatever reason…transfer a lot of bacteria”, Professor Paul Dawson, lead author of the study, told The Atlantic.
However, you don’t need to worry – unless a person is sick, you can still safely eat the cake, even with the increased number of bacteria. Most bacteria that are present in our mouths are not harmful, and the ones that are will probably not be present in amounts large enough to cause a problem. “It’s not a big health concern in my perspective", Dawson added. "In reality, if you did this 1,00,000 times, then the chance of getting sick would probably be very minimal.”
Till date, I haven’t heard of anyone falling sick because of eating cake. But if you’re on a diet and don’t want to say so, well, this is as good an excuse as any!
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