New Hygiene Rules Ban Communal Birthday Cakes

By Mariam Digges

Blowing out candles on birthday cakes at childcare will soon become a thing of the past, under strict new hygiene rules.

The National Health and Medical Research Council is hoping to ban communal birthday cakes in a bid to prevent the spread of germs. Under the new guidelines, children would have to bring their own cupcake, and only blow out candles on their individual patty cake.

“Children love to blow out their candles while their friends are singing ‘Happy birthday’,” reads the NHMRC document.

“To prevent the spread of germs when the child blows out the candles, parents should either provide a separate cupcake, with a candle if they wish, for the birthday child and (either) enough cupcakes for all the other children … (or) a large cake that can be cut and shared.”

But doctors have been quick to lash out at the proposed measures, claiming that the strengthening of children’s immune systems will be jeapordised if we continue bubble-wrapping them this way. They suggest the simple measure of hand washing before any communal, food-related activities, or for instance, post sand-pit playing, is ample.

The document also proposes certified “exclusion periods” for sick children to stay home, saying that childcare centers “will not be influenced by letters from doctors stating that the child can return to care”.

“Parents may find an exclusion ruling difficult, and some parents may put pressure on educators to vary the exclusion rules,” the NHMRC document reads.

“These parents are often under pressure themselves to fulfill work, study or other family commitments.”

But Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, who announced the new guidelines yesterday, claims the exclusion rules are simply stating that “if you’re sick you should stay home”.


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