Bacterial Transfer Associated with Blowing Out Candles on a Birthday Cake

  •  Paul Dawson    
  •  Inyee Han    
  •  Danielle Lynn    
  •  Jenevieve Lackey    
  •  Johnson Baker    
  •  Rose Martinez-Dawson    


This study examined the potential spread of bacteria when blowing out candles on a birthday cake. Preliminary tests of blowing on nutrient agar indicated that bioaerosols in human breath expelled from the mouth may be a source of bacteria transferred to cake surfaces. To test aerosol transfer to cake, icing was spread evenly over foil then birthday candles were placed through the foil into a Styrofoam™ base. After consuming pizza, test subjects were asked to extinguish the candles by blowing. Icing samples were sterilely recovered then surface plated, to determine the level of bacterial contamination. Blowing out the candles over the icing surface resulted in 1400% more bacteria compared to icing not blown on. 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. 

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