Blowing Out Birthday Candles: A Potential Health Hazard?

Blowing out birthday candles is a tradition loved by many, but could it be a health hazard? Discover the risks and safer alternatives to enjoy your cake without worries.

Blowing Out Birthday Candles: A Potential Health Hazard?
Blowing out candles may be a birthday tradition, but it can also increase bacteria on the cake's surface by 1,400 times! Try a safer alternative to keep the celebration going. Photo by Zachary Kadolph on Unsplash

It's time to rethink blowing out the birthday cake candles. While nobody wants to ruin the fun, it's important to understand that certain food practices can pose a risk to human health and disease prevention. Blowing out the candles on the cake is one such practice.

Traditionally, the birthday person makes a wish and blows out the candle before cutting the cake. However, experts from the Emerging Technologies Laboratory of the Center for Research in Food and Development (CIAD) warn that blowing on the cake can increase the number of bacteria on its surface by 1,400 times, including harmful bacteria such as Staphylococcus spp, Streptococcus spp, Corynebacterium spp, and Haemophilus spp. These bacteria can cause respiratory and skin infections.

Additionally, smoke from burning candles can be inhaled, increasing the risk of respiratory problems and even fires. If the candle is too close to the face, there's also a risk of burns or eye injuries.

Even biting into the cake can pose a risk. Salivae and pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli, can be transmitted to the cake, leading to gastrointestinal illness.

So what can you do instead? Get creative! Try using tongs, a balloon blower, or a candle snuffer to blow out the candles. Alternatively, make a joke about using a fire extinguisher (just don't use one!). Or, simply remind everyone that the most important thing is to enjoy the cake safely. Happy birthday!