Blowing out birthday candles may be harmful to your health

birthday candlesCould a piece of birthday cake be responsible for your next cold?

Clemson food scientist Paul Dawson and his research team are investigating if bacteria are transferred to birthday cake icing when candles are blown out.

Dawson's lab conducted the first round of research with Clemson University students last spring. The second round of testing included 44 fourth-graders from A.R. Lewis Elementary School in Pickens.

The Styrofoam cakes were topped with a sheet of aluminum foil, coated with icing and dotted with 10 candles. The results showed a significant increase in bacteria in the icing after students blew out the candles.

“Blowing out birthday candles is generally a safe practice,” Dawson said. “But if the person blowing out the candles is ill, people may not want to eat that cake.” It doesn’t mean give up on birthday candles, just be aware that diseases can be transmitted by more than a sneeze or a cough.

For information: Paul Dawson, 864-656-1138,