How coronavirus could put an end to popular birthday tradition

Blowing out candles on a birthday cake might be a thing of the past due to coronavirus.

Professor Paul Dawson from Clemson University in South Carolina wrote in research published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education in 2017, blowing out candles increased bacteria on cake icing by 1400 per cent.

“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,” the paper reads.

Professor Dawson and his team used a piece of foil covered in icing on polystyrene with candles placed on top.

A researcher in the US said testing has shown blowing out candles increased the amount of bacteria on cakes. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

Research has shown coronavirus is spread via droplets from the mouth.

Professor Dawson told the ABC blowing out birthday cake candles “would really be a thing of the past post-pandemic”.

"If you can pick it up [coronavirus] on a door knob or in the air, then if someone is blowing on food before you eat it, it is likely you'll get that virus in your system, so it doesn't seem a prudent thing to do,” he told the ABC.

However, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand said in April there is no evidence COVID-19 can be transmitted through food.

“COVID-19 is a respiratory disease spreading from person to person,” the authority said. 

“It’s not a foodborne disease. There’s no evidence to suggest people will get infected by swallowing the virus in, or on, food or drink.”

Professor Dawson told the ABC he was taking a “conservative stance”.

CSIRO senior food microbiologist Cathy Moir wrote in April people don’t need to wash food or vegetables any more frequently than usual.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand said the virus is not a foodborne disease. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

It’s good practise to do this outside of the pandemic anyway.

“Please note – hand soap or dishwashing detergent are not designed for direct use on food,” she wrote.

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