There's no danger of cake police shutting down childcare centres, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says.
The ministerial reassurance came after National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines released on Tuesday advised against blowing out candles on birthday cakes being shared at childcare centres.
Ms Plibersek says centres that don’t comply won’t be punished but it makes sense for children not to spread germs knowingly.
‘‘There’s a degree of common sense required,’’ Ms Plibersek told reporters in Canberra.
‘‘We’re not going to have the cupcake police out, but childcare centres know that whatever they can do to reduce infections in childcare centres is going to be good for the kids, good for the families they support and good for childcare workers.’’
The NHMRC document suggests preventing the spread of germs by putting a candle on a cupcake for the birthday child to blow out, rather than on a shared cake.
But Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Steve Hambleton says it is healthy for children to be exposed to a certain amount of environmental antigens that build their immune systems.
‘‘If you live in a plastic bubble you’re going to get infections [later in life] that you can’t handle,’’ Dr Hambleton said.
The recommendations were criticised by opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton, who said yesterday the government was running a nanny state.
‘‘It’s really beyond the pale and I think mum and dad know how to bring up kids,’’ he said.
But Ms Plibersek said the guidelines were almost identical to those released in 2005 under then health minister Tony Abbott.
‘‘Peter Dutton has basically gone out and said that Tony Abbott is a nanny state enforcer and that parents don’t know what they’re doing and that Tony Abbott as health minister was gone mad,’’ she said.
The guidelines, titled Staying Healthy, also stress that children should wash their hands with alcohol sanitiser before and after playing in sandpits.