Dr Sister Outlaw presents: When too much hygiene is never enough

I work for a peak organisation that supports early childhood services. As a result, I spend some of my time counselling them about food handling and other issues, and there are quite a few things they have to watch that those of us with home kitchens don’t need to bother about – for instance, the new National Food Standard will restrict the serving of luncheon meats to vulnerable persons (sorry Kirsty, spam is out for kids).

However, sometimes anxiety about hygiene just goes a bit far. I happen to know, for instance, that some early childhood educators refrain from using toilet rolls in kiddy craft, on the basis that they are a hygiene risk (I hasten to add that sensible people have concluded that nobody has yet died from their use, and that they are a worthy addition to the craft table). But, in a similar vein, comes a concept which a colleague tells me was reported on the ABC’s New Inventors last night.

It’s a shield that goes over the cake, and stops children’s germs falling on the icing as they blow their candles out.

Because there was no picture on the ABC site, I googled and found a US patented example.

So, an open post about hygiene standards, the lack thereof, and other people’s ridiculous pernicketiness. Fire away!

24 comments ↓

#1 Zoe on 13.11.08 at 11:51 am

It was one of those little in-fill segments, not one of the designs being judged. Which is good, because it’s stoopid.

As for hygiene, I once wiped something on the floor with the dishcloth at my sister in law’s house. Her partner looked at me, took the cloth out of my hand and put it straight in the bin. That was me told.

#2 Laura on 13.11.08 at 12:20 pm

I’ve often thought the blowing out of birthday candles was a little bit disgusting, but no so much that it ever stopped me from eating the cake. The cake condom thing on the tv last night however is not an appropriate solution.

#3 kate on 13.11.08 at 12:46 pm

My hygiene standards are not high. My grandmother would be appalled. My best mate’s mother works in public health, she has even been responsible for leading investigations into major food poisoning outbreaks, and Zoe, she uses her dishcloth to wipe stuff off the floor. Anyone who tells you you shouldn’t in a domestic context is trying to sell you paper towel.

As for all the anti-bacterial nonsense, oh my golly I get ranty at that, because it’s crap. The important thing is to wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly.

#4 dv on 13.11.08 at 1:06 pm

It makes me get all twitchy. The idea that children might be allowed to develop immune systems. Much better to stop any germs from ever reaching them with dumb ideas like this and the trolley covers and antibacterial everything.

just insane.

#5 Dr Sister Outlaw on 13.11.08 at 1:09 pm

Personally, I’m quite fond of the old gutter immunity principle, which someone realised when coddled middle class kids from clean homes got polio but the urchins were immune.

Anti-bacterial crap pisses me off too. Not only that, it breeds resistant bugs. I’ve also heard that the effect of accidentally dipping an anti-bacterial sponge into a fish tank is fairly dramatic, and kind of final for the fish.

#6 Zoe on 13.11.08 at 1:24 pm

Just dragged Dr Sista from the spam bin there – I installed a new spam blocker today, and it’s just learning, so if your comment doesn’t appear email me and I’ll fish it out. In between looking after two extra small boys, making a nice beef curry and explaining to my boss the conversation we’re going to have with the IT crowd.

#7 Dr Sister Outlaw on 13.11.08 at 1:49 pm

You multi-tasker you!

#8 FDB on 13.11.08 at 3:50 pm

Unless you’re planning to suck on your dishcloth, or use still-wet dishes without rinsing them, then I say BAH!!!

It’s like antibacterial toilet cleaners… “did you know that up to eleventy-billion bacteria could be living under the rim of your toilet?” Ummm… that’s the place where I go to squeeze faeces out of my arsehole. I am neither surprised nor interested in your product, as I currently have no plans to wipe my sammiches there.

Likewise having separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables. I have two boards – one for “things that will be cooked” and “things that will be eaten raw”.

The lack of basic common sense in public information on hygeine (replaced with doctrine and scienciness), combined with the level of HowardHughesiness, makes me right cross it does.

#9 hmphh on 13.11.08 at 4:09 pm

That cake thing was hilarious! I’m quite nervous though, I work in a kinder and I’m quite sure I’ll be offending someone soon when I laugh the first time one is brought in! (And one will be brought in…)

#10 Dr Sister Outlaw on 13.11.08 at 4:18 pm

I have separate cutting boards, but not because of hygiene. I have a board that is for fruit and innocuous smelling veges and one that I am happy to chop onions and meat on. I scrub the latter between meat chops. Works for me.

When a cake shield appears at your kindy hmphh I want to hear about it!

#11 Mel on 13.11.08 at 5:47 pm

Hi Kids!

We’d like to invite you to little Johnnie’s Birthday Party! There will be lots of fun activities like:
-Blowing the candles off the Hygiene Shield!
-Bobbing for apples in the Dettol bath!
-Pass the Parcel! Don’t worry, we’ve wrapped each layer in anti-bacterial wipes, and all of the prizes are hermetically sealed!
-All our lollie bags have been through the autoclave! No nasty germs here!

Oh. My. God.
Talk about sucking the fun (and immune system) out of a kid’s life…

#12 worldpeace and a speedboat on 13.11.08 at 8:13 pm

I strongly believe in good old fashioned hygiene, ie, wash your hands and dry them thoroughly. don’t leave food out uncovered. don’t mix raw meat with cooked. let the children play in the dirt and enjoy it (except I do occasionally clean under the Dinghy’s fingernails, otherwise they’d have their own microclimate).

that candle cover shite is… well, shite. let’s just hope it stays the way of billions of silly patents and just remain a patent. no objections to that whatsoever.

#13 Francis Xavier Holden on 13.11.08 at 10:25 pm

I scrub the latter between meat chops. Works for me.

Scrubber! meat chops, workd for me, nudge nudge, wink wink, phnoar phnar,

( I must stop reading Viz comics)

Anyway Sista – would your peak body accept a sumbission to encourage the licking of hankies to wipe kids faces in public – I think its sad that this old homely habit has disappeared.

#14 Dr Sister Outlaw on 14.11.08 at 7:26 am

Mwahahah!

#15 Zoe on 14.11.08 at 10:35 am

I was at it this morning, FX. WIth a hankie, I mean.

#16 Helen on 14.11.08 at 4:17 pm

Gahd, this antibacterial stuff gives me the royal shits. It’s just about making people more neurotic to make money off them, and breeding superbugs while you’re about it. Worse than useless!

“Cake condom” Laura? ROFL.

#17 librarygirl on 14.11.08 at 5:30 pm

My children attended kindergarten in 1999 and 2002
When doing “fruit duty” in 1999 clean, washed hands were fine, then in 2002 disposable gloves appeared, which most of us ignored, because making a fruit platter wearing gloves is a pain.
My other beef is cooking for school fetes, election day stalls and on. Now every ingredient has to be listed and the cooks initials and phone number listed (so the bubonic plague can be traced back to its source one presumes). Some schools forbid home cooked cakes to share when your kid has a birthday, but that might be about wiping peanut butter over your implements before you begin, which of course, everyone does, don’t they?

#18 Kirsty on 16.11.08 at 10:59 am

Oh, you know the world has gone crazy when it’s only for hygiene reasons that Spam has been crossed off the list. Perhaps if it’s dipped in dettol beforehand?

Personally, I commit to working on my immunity everyday by eating something I’ve dropped on the kitchen floor first.

#19 St33v on 16.11.08 at 5:05 pm

heyas

re the ‘no polio in the slums’ comment (much earlier): In Brazil I saw plenty of favela-kids hopping about on crutches (but still playing soccer of course). I didn’t ask them, but I put it down to Polio. This was an area where the water supply failed frequently; people queued to fill buckets from a hose thrown over the wall from the yacht club.

For some reason, Polio seems to be a favorite example chosen by anti-vaccinationists; I’ve heard the opinion that its eradication from the ‘developed’ world had nothing to do with vaccines; it was a coincidental consequence of better hygeine, so take your pick. Or read ‘I can jump puddles’.

The wikipedia sez:

In 2006 only four countries in the world (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan) were reported to have endemic poliomyelitis.

All of these countries are overrun by coddled middle class kids, so I think its best to acknowledge that polio is a serious disease, but one which CAN be eradicated by vaccination.

I don’t mean to come over all gruff and humourless, but I think we sometimes forget how lucky we are to have access to clean water, vaccinations and antibiotics when things go wrong. Indeed, I am currently taking antibiotics for a skin infection that started with a tick bite. The swelling progressed from ‘mozzie bite’ to ‘egg’ and then to ‘cucumber’ overnight. I wasn’t willing to wait and watch where it went next.

But I agree the cake condom was just wrong!

#20 St33v on 16.11.08 at 5:05 pm

I meant Not overrrun of course d’oh

#21 Dr Sister Outlaw on 16.11.08 at 8:16 pm

Nothing gruff and humourless about that – I adopt the most terrifying expressions when confronted by anti-vaccinationists. I didn’t mean to be glib about polio.

Polio is, for those who don’t know (and a big warning here for sensitive types), is spread in traces of faecal matter. That’s why the 1950s epidemic that struck sewered first world countries, where there was plenty of fresh running water, shocked epidemiologists. It proved that hand washing alone was not enough. We aren’t out of the woods, I think from time to time it is observed in PNG, which is rather close to home, so I am grateful that my kid was offered it in his vaccination schedule. But I am still going to use the gutter immunity principle to justify my failure to sterilise combs that have fallen on the floor and other crimes.

Hope your cucumber is under control St33v!

#22 Francis Xavier Holden on 16.11.08 at 8:45 pm

library girl@17 – I was sad some considerable years ago when my daughter informed me I couldn’t do the kinda thing ‘cos I wasn’t a “Fruit Judy”

#23 Elise on 18.11.08 at 11:37 am

My aunty is paranoid about kids spraying a cake when they blow out the candles – we always have a joke about it. Does anyone know where I can buy one of these (as a joke Christmas present)? I’ve looked everywhere online, but can only find patents, and not anyone who has actually developed and is selling this product.

#24 Zoe on 19.11.08 at 1:05 pm

A bit of sticky tape and one of those plastic covered cakes from the supermarket might work, Elise – I’m pretty sure they’re not in production anywhere.

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