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Let Them Eat Cake Frosting (Not)

I’m still trying to decide if there was a polite way to handle an issue that happened at work.

Last week was a co-worker’s birthday and someone left a frosted cake in the break room for everyone to share.

My co-worker “Jane” (not the birthday celebrant) was heading out to a different office and I followed her into the break room (where our lockers are) as we finished a conversation. As I watched, Jane took a piece of cake, then ran her finger along the cake server to remove the frosting. She licked her finger, then flipped the server over, ran the same finger along that side and licked her finger again. Jane then casually set the server on the cake and left.

I grabbed the server and washed it thoroughly, but couldn’t figure out what to do with the portion of cake it had touched. The server had rested against about five slices, so simply tossing them out would have made an obvious dent (there were only about 12 slices total). Announcing to my remaining co-workers what had happened seemed cruel to Jane. She’s already not well-liked by some of our co-workers and this wouldn’t have helped.

In the end, I did nothing. I tell myself the cake probably wasn’t affected much, but I realize I’d want to know about something like this before I ate.

So, what SHOULD I have done?    0522-16

What you say as she is about to finish licking the other side of the server, “Please wash that before placing it on the cake again.”


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • kategillian May 23, 2016, 8:20 am

    I remember when I was about 11 years old in Girl Scouts, we had a cupcake decorating class. And I did this exact thing, when we were decorating, I licked the spoon and then continued decorating my cupcake. Everyone took me aside to tell me how gross it was and that I couldn’t share that cake with anyone. I learned that when I was 11!

    • Airelenaren May 23, 2016, 3:30 pm

      To be fair: You have to actually get the information at some to learn it. And judging from how many (even professional) cooks and bakers do it on TV (where you’d assume they want to look good), I think many people may never have been told – and of course now that they’re adults, few people feel in the position to enlighten them.

    • Snarkastic May 27, 2016, 2:04 pm

      At a dinner party with an open kitchen, my mother and I both noticed that one of the people cooking taste tested, then put that same utensil back in the pot of sauce she tasted. Since she wasn’t an immediate relative or good friend, we said nothing and avoided that sauce. No need to call her out,but it’s just poor form when you’re planning on serving that dish to a room full of people. Blech!

  • Marie May 23, 2016, 8:34 am

    Jeanne is right, though personally I would not have said it, fully expecting the fingerlicking lady to wash it without me needing to comment on it. You could still mention to your coworker that you washed the knife and tell her that while her actions are ok at home, it’s not ok to do so at work. Compare it to someone walking up to you and sticking their finger in their mouths and then in her coffee. She might understand it from that point of view.

    As for the cake: don’t worry. We humans take so many bacterias during the day. The chance that your coworker had bacteria that were transfered from mouth to finger, from finger to knife and from knife to the cake and then someone becoming sick because of it are very, VERY slim.
    (Not that this excuses your coworker, of course.)

  • Just4Kicks May 23, 2016, 8:41 am

    Although “Jane” should not have done that, I think you did the right thing by washing off the utensil and not making a federal case out of it.
    I agree with admin about asking her to wash it, but she probably wouldn’t have.
    That’s a great way to get everyone sick, and just gross in my opinion, along with people who “double dip” chips into dip.
    If I see someone do that, I won’t touch whatever it is again.

    I wrote a long letter to the assistant principal at my kids middle school just a few weeks ago, after getting a letter in the mail saying my kids have used up all their sick days and threatening me with legal action if they missed any more school this year.
    They are each allotted 10 sick days, both of my kids have used 12, two extra a piece.
    I was furious, and one of the lines in my very lengthy letter was “I unfortunately cannot control my children getting sick, and if I send a vomiting child to school you will call me to come get them, right?”
    “We have had a rough time this year with my kids getting one stomach virus and cold after another….my guess would be other parents you’ve threatened with legal action are sending THEIR kids to school sick, which spreads around the classroom and school.”
    I haven’t heard back, and no one has come to my house with handcuffs, so we will see.

    • Becca May 23, 2016, 11:52 am

      I haven’t heard of a cap on sick days for school children, that seems asinine, especially if they have doctors notes! I understand some families take their children out of school on days for extended family vacations and such, that being limited makes sense but to come after families that have used two extra “sick days”, how ridiculous.

      Did you also write the superintendent as well? The school doesn’t care but sometimes if you stir the pot up higher it’ll get a response, since it sounds like the school thinks nothing of threatening parents so of course they probably just rolled their eyes at your letter and went on their day.

      • LizaJane May 23, 2016, 6:39 pm

        Indiana has such caps on absences for school days. A kid can do all their assignments, pass their finals and ISTEP and still fail. And it is assinine.

      • Betsy May 23, 2016, 10:34 pm

        Hi Becca and Just4Kicks,
        I have worked truancy in my school district. Ten UNEXCUSED absences is the limit before the principal is legally required to notify the parent. (Sometimes parents forget to write excuse notes and the absences get recorded as unexcused.) Part of the reason for the official notice is that with teenagers, the parent may not be aware the student is skipping school. There is court involvement if the absences continue beyond those 10 (in a school year). But before this step the school district tries very hard to determine the reason for the absences and seek solutions. This law is called the Becca Bill – named after a 13 year old who was consistently truant and involved in activities which lead to her death.

        • Becca May 24, 2016, 10:45 am

          Unexcused absences makes a lot more sense. I wonder if the middle school has their wires crossed about the difference there, I can only talk from experience in my own school districts and their offices can be atrocious. That’s a small town school though, very slim pickings for staff and it shows 🙁

        • Just4Kicks May 25, 2016, 7:59 am

          @Betsy: Thanks for your comment, and explanation, I apologize if I was “dissing” your occupation. I meant no offense to anyone who is just doing their job.

          When my kid’s came down with the stomach bug, I did call our family doctor to see if I should bring them in to the office.
          The doctor said, unlike strep or a bad cold, there is nothing medically they can do for them except to let them “ride it out” and make sure they don’t get dehydrated.
          If they were still throwing up after 48 hours, I should call back and bring them in.
          Throw in a $40.00 co-pay for each kid, each visit, it adds up.
          Don’t get me wrong, there is no amount of money I wouldn’t pay to get my kids healthy, but if ginger ale and saltiness are the prescription, then they just have to let it work itself out.

          • Aletheia May 28, 2016, 9:37 pm

            If that’s the case, you can still ask your doctor to write them a note; most doctors will write them willingly without a visit if it’s a disease that’s easily spreadable and/or something they can’t treat (like the stomach viruses you mentioned and pinkeye, for example). You’ll still have to go pick the notes up, but the absences will be excused for the school when your kids go back. 🙂

        • Denise May 25, 2016, 9:46 am

          As a parent on the receiving end of one of these letters in Northern California, our district has s cap on EXCUSED and UNEXCUSED abscences. At 10 for the year (15 tardies), you are required to submit a medical declaration from your child’s Doctor indicating that they have a medical condition or underlying cause for the abscences or tardies. It is irrelevant if you have produced a medical note for each abscence. You must present your reasoning at a truancy hearing with the district or face consequences for yourself and your student.

          While I understand the necessity for children to attend school regularly, the way schools are funded and how abscences are handled really needs to change. If I make the choice to remove my honor roll, never in trouble, child from school for an illness, funeral or something that I find to have heavy importance, I should have that right as her parent. It nearly led us down the homeschool path. Fortunately we changed districts with a more reasonable truancy policy.

          • Aletheia May 28, 2016, 9:39 pm

            My school was the same, back in the day; we were allowed 10 unexcused and 10 excused for the whole year (half in the fall and half in the spring). Anything more than that could lead to truancy proceedings unless you made arrangements for the school for lengthy absences (like with a broken limb or, in my case, a particularly nasty case of chicken pox).

      • Just4Kicks May 24, 2016, 1:31 am

        @Becca: That was actually another point in my letter.
        There is one girl in my daughter’s grade who has an older brother in my son’s grade.
        Every year, they take a family vacation for at least a week, sometimes two, during the mandatory state testing.
        I asked if those parents received a similar letter telling they would have appear before a magistrate and face jail time and/or a hefty fine.

        • AnaMaria May 25, 2016, 9:23 am

          Depending on how honest the school administration is, they might turn a blind eye to that situation because a) these particular kids tend to have low test scores, so if they -oops!- disappear during testing and just (oh dear!) can’t find time to take the makeup test, it brings the school’s average up.

          Btw, this is totally NOT coming from a fed-up educator. Not at all.

      • Pam May 26, 2016, 2:29 pm

        At our school, doctor’s notes constitute an excused absent. 10 UNexcused absences and the student and parents have a meeting with the principal to find out what’s up. Also, if a student has a temperature etc. at school, there are “school excused.” Basically it’s to keep kids from falling through the cracks.

    • The Elf May 23, 2016, 2:42 pm

      You should check out the Mythbusters episode on double-dipping. It does not add significantly more bacteria. That said, it’s totally rude so the actual facts of the germs don’t matter much. No one should do it.

      • Just4Kicks May 24, 2016, 1:38 am

        I didn’t know that!
        Thanks, I will check it out. 🙂

      • Powers May 24, 2016, 12:08 pm

        Why is it rude if there’s no adverse impact?

        • Kay_L May 24, 2016, 5:44 pm

          There is an adverse impact–other people think it’s gross!

          Something doesn’t have to be a absolute health threat to be considered rude.

        • The Elf May 25, 2016, 9:59 am

          It’s the appearance of evil (or in this case, germs). Best not to offend just to get a wee bit more dip.

    • lakey May 23, 2016, 5:10 pm

      Your situation is what is wrong with hard and fast rules. There are people who keep their kids out of school excessively. However, there are also kids who get sick a lot. Schools are germ factories. How long is a child out of school for one case of chicken pox, flu, or strep throat? Setting a limit of 10 sick days, and then threatening a parent with legal action is laziness on the part of school administrators who don’t want to take the time to judge each case separately. If they were concerned they should have phoned you and asked if there was a reason for so many absences.

      • Cat May 23, 2016, 8:23 pm

        It is not a school rule. It is a state rule that schools have to enforce in order to keep their funding.
        They also have to have a certain percentage of students who graduate out of the freshman class that began high school four years earlier. I worked in adult education guidance and caught schools falsifying student records to make it appear that seniors had taken and received grades for night school or evening classes they had never taken. They were trying to make their quotas by lying. All that it did was to deny students the education they were supposed to be receiving.
        Have you not heard that education is a business? If it is, we are turning out the human equivalent of Chinese drywall.
        Be mad at your state legislature and not at the poor school officials who are stuck with things like these.

      • NostalgicGal May 24, 2016, 12:29 am

        The state usually sets minimum attendance rules and the like. However if the child is getting homework assignments and keeping up with the coursework, there should be leeway. I had the issue my senior year (my senior year was ‘extra’ anyways) and I graduated with ‘three extra days’ over their ‘allowed’ absences. One of them was over being exposed to Scarlet Fever because of the New Years Eve sitting fiasco involving the Superintendent’s kids and the lawyer’s kid and their no-vaccination family friends’ kids…

        First grade we had 31 kids and at one time in one week they had 14 of us out at the same time for mumps and measles going around at the same time (big cities had the vaccine, we didn’t see it for a few more years)…. so almost half a class out during the same week. Nobody said anything about using up sick days that year. I went in for half a day Friday (afternoon) to pick up homework which was done that weekend to catch up-no fun. Mumps was the first part of the week and Measles the end of that week. Most had theirs over two weeks so they lost close to ten days, I had mine back to back over the weekends too. We all went on to the next grade.

      • Just4Kicks May 24, 2016, 1:36 am

        My son in this story, two years ago came down with strep throat, he was out for a week, and was under a doctor’s care.
        A few weeks after that, he came down with the flu, out for another week, also had a doctors note.
        One day, I get a very nasty call from “Officer Steve”, with the threat of being arrested.
        I was beyond furious, and layed into this guy.
        I said “okay, next time my kid is throwing up, I WILL send him to school and his teachers can deal with cleaning it up all day long!”
        “Well…Mrs K, that’s not what I mean!!!”
        Okay….then you tell me what to do, Officer….

        • Michelle May 24, 2016, 11:36 am

          My son got strep so many times in 5th grade, that I started sending the bills to the principal. When he called to ask why I was sending him bills I replied “When children are diagnosed with strep, they are supposed to be on antibiotics for a full 24 hours and have no fever before they come back to school. I follow that advice to the letter. Many parents are sending them in the next morning and they haven’t been on antibiotics for the full 24 hours and sometimes, they still have a fever. I know this because I have personally witnessed it. Since you are not making any other parents follow the rules, then you can pay for all the medical bills that I am incurring due to your lack of enforcing the rules for everyone. My attorney says that since you are not enforcing they rules and allowing sick, contagious children back in class, if I chose to, I could pursue the matter to recover the money that I am forced to spend to every time he becomes infected with strep again.”

          A note reminding parents about the policy and a new rule that all children must be checked by the nurse and have a doctor’s note to return to class was sent out 2 days later. I really wouldn’t sue the school but I got tired of doing the “right thing” by my child, including me missing work days, when other parents simply didn’t care. I know it’s a hassle when you work and your child is sick but that’s part of being a parent.

          • Amanda H. May 24, 2016, 11:19 pm

            My girls’ school had an outbreak of pinkeye over the winter. After about two weeks of hearing about it, including the school calling me about my middle child’s puffy eyes (allergies in her case), when my oldest got pinkeye they actually said she wouldn’t be allowed back in class until we brought in the doctor’s note that showed she was pinkeye-free.

    • Jessica Sipos May 24, 2016, 12:22 am

      I think that there is funding connected to public schools and what the attendance rates are. If they get too low, I believe the school’s funding is somehow affected. My son spent part of kindergarten in a Chicago Public School, and the emphasis on attendance, the rewards, the prizes, was over the top, and in my opinion, inappropriate. (I disagreed because I don’t think people should be rewarded for meeting their responsibilities. Plus, it makes a person wonder why they have to be persuaded so much…what is going on that kids have to be bribed to go to school. And there was a bit, or a lot, of racism going on, unfortunately. Further, giving prizes for perfect attendance, encourages kids going to school very sick so they can win that iPad. Yes, there were iPad prizes, but Chicago Public School District is bankrupt…) Anyway, CPS is a long story, but my point is the legal action threat may have come from that funding issue, if this was a public school…? Ridiculous. Funding over health. Funding over trust in parents to take care of their children. Funding over a person’s right to recuperate from illness. Heck, funding over a person’s inalienable, and inevitable, propensity to get sick.

      But it is true some parents don’t really take on the responsibility to get their kids to school, which can be a problem. In another point of view, the legal action threat is a way to protect the children by ensuring they get their rightful education despite disinterested parents. Problem is, it starts encroaching on responsible parents….

      • NostalgicGal May 24, 2016, 3:44 pm

        Years back our school did have one kid that had a funding stipend attached to him directly and the LAST thing he wanted was to be in school, he couldn’t wait to turn age to tell them to stuff it. He was bused to our school and the superintendent, principal, and two teachers had to meet the bus to catch him–literally physically catch him. He would go out the main door, the back safety door or a window if he could, and some days they’d ‘miss’ and he’d run away for the day and show up in time to get on the bus at night. If they did get physical hold of him, they had to escort him firmly to a room and lock him in and he didn’t go anywhere without at least a two adult escort (he did jump from a second story bathroom window once). The amount was twice what the district would get for any other student so the school put up with it (he was being bussed to us because no other school could deal). We all knew the day he turned 16….

        Years ago aunt and uncle had their kids in a major urban school district (two years apart) and they went to 9 months on, 3 off, and staggered the kids so that 3/4ths were in school at any time, year around. They needed AC for about 4 months and didn’t have it in most of the schools so that summer the kids FRIED. Plus, the boys were on different schedules. There was NO way to take a vacation. The parents fought to get the kids synched, and finally said fine we’re pulling the one out for the month of July. The district offered to hold him back a year. They offered to sue. They showed up with him and all his text books and every day he had to sit to his homework and assignments and write the tests and quizzes that were packaged up and given to the parents. By the time they got back a massive lawsuit had been mounted against the district. The next year the district synched the boys, so one didn’t get ANY break, but at least they were on the same schedule.

    • SoISaid May 24, 2016, 9:02 am

      What a truly odd rule. My kids takes as many sick days, holidays and vacation days we they or we need.

      • PaulaKayMN May 24, 2016, 9:10 pm

        We had the 10 day rule at my school. It didn’t matter if it was excused or unexcused.

        When I was a senior, I had strep right at the beginning of the school year (it was an ongoing battle with strep for the past few years). I was out a few days. In October, I had my tonsils out – out of school for 3 more days. I got the flu or a cold a few times (but I’ve never had strep since!! YAY!). It all added up.

        By the end of the school year, I received a letter from the school board saying I wasn’t going to graduate because I missed more than 10 days. I had to write a letter of appeal to the school board. They did reverse their decision. Was that really necessary? I had notes from my parents and/or the doctor. It didn’t matter. Ugh…

        • MPW1971 June 3, 2016, 3:48 pm

          I attended high school on a semester system – the fall semester was from September (day after Labour Day) until mid-January – exams at the end of January. The winter semester started in February and ran until mid-June. That meant something like 19 weeks of instruction, minus a few stat holidays for Easter and Victoria Day. We were allowed no more than 20 absences to be able to meet the minimum requirements for instruction in any class. This was by subject, so a student who decided to cut class in the afternoon in the late spring, only risked the credit in that class.
          Now this was the late 1980’s, and students could drop out with parental consent at age 16, or without consent at age 18.
          Back in 1st grade in 1976/77, I had the mumps and missed 5 solid weeks of school – all of March – and a total of 32 days over the course of the year. Not a real threat to not receiving enough instruction, but this can certainly be true in the upper years.

    • InTheEther May 24, 2016, 7:15 pm

      I can see the school doing something like that for unexcused absences, but limiting sick days? I remember in middle school one of my classmates had an accident with a ricocheting bb pellet and shot his eye out (literally, he came back to school with a glass eye). He was out for a couple of months. But, his family and the faculty busted their buts to keep him mostly caught up, making him packets containing class work and lecture outlines. Once he got back he had to do some extra tutoring, but despite being a goofball he was rather smart and caught up fine. I don’t think there was ever really any concern about him not being able to graduate or anything

      As others have said, schools are a hotbed of diseases. For about a week and a half just before winter break my senior year it seemed like everyone was getting strep or the flu. There were so many out that the teachers basically gave up teaching what with half the class being gone and the principal actually cancelled school one day. (Private school that went from preK to 12th, so we didn’t have the same state regulations.)

      • Just4Kicks May 25, 2016, 8:57 am

        Exactly this.
        I can’t tell you the number of times just this year where my kids were in class with kids who had strep throat, ear infections, pink eye you name it.
        I understand also, that sometimes parents can’t afford to take days off to sit with home with a sick child.
        My daughter came home one day and said she was sitting in between two kids who had pink eye, it’s a miracle she didn’t get it.
        If the kids can’t stay home, I’m not sure what the solution should be, spend the day doing their work in the office or nurse’s room?
        I’m very lucky in that I’m not working outside the home right now, and feel bad for parents who just can’t take off because of illness.

  • Cat May 23, 2016, 9:03 am

    I agree, just mention that it needs to be washed as she put her finger in her mouth and then wiped the server with that finger, spreading her saliva over the server. Once she realizes that, she will be more careful about washing cake servers.

    I went to a Christmas party where the host’s five year old son had taken one of his toy cars from the floor and was running it all over the frosting of the cake, using the sheet cake as his race track. The deep plow marks were there for all to see.
    His parents did not stop him and I simply declined any of the cake.

  • Girlie May 23, 2016, 9:33 am

    That’s disgusting.

    That’s also precisely why I don’t like to eat a cake or something that’s been left out that my co-workers (or anyone) has the chance to cut into before I have.

    As obvious as it would have looked, I think I would have thrown the five pieces away. If Jane’s behavior is always so thoughtless, I could understand why some people aren’t so fond of her.
    (That being said, I wouldn’t have advertised what I’d done, and I might have even gone so far as to have “hidden” the slices under a handful of napkins in the trash – but that would have been for the benefit of the cake maker’s feelings, not for Jane’s).

    • iwadasn May 24, 2016, 12:27 pm

      The server definitely needed to be washed, but I don’t think it’s necessary to throw out almost half the cake. As others have mentioned, the server briefly touching the sides of the cake pieces would have a pretty negligible effect–it’s more an issue of the “ick factor” than anything else.

  • Devin May 23, 2016, 9:55 am

    I disagree with the admins response. The op would have had to know ahead of time the person was going to lick again, not wash it, and place it back on top the cake. Otherwise it would be rude of you to demand someone do something that would seem to be common sense. If you had really been quick thinking, you could have said “here, let me wash that off” as she went to set it down, but i know in the moment you dont always think that fast.
    If it had been me, i would have discretely thrown out the touched pieces. Im sure most people would just assume those pieces had been eaten. Also, I’d keep in mind this persons views in sanitary food serving and decline any future treats she may bring. I really thought this was going to be a ‘she took the whole cake’ stories.

    • SJ May 25, 2016, 12:15 am

      You make a good point. If someone told me to wash something I’d licked, I’d be like, “obviously I was going to.” You can’t tell someone has no intention of cleaning it off.

      BUT, I wouldn’t lick off of a serving spoon outside my own kitchen anyway . . .

    • Emmy May 30, 2016, 5:35 pm

      I feel the same way, there was probably not way the OP would have known that Jane would put the licked server back on the cake until it was already done. Telling people basic things like don’t like the cake server and put it back on the cake before the fact would be insulting to most reasonable people.

  • NostalgicGal May 23, 2016, 10:01 am

    I had a house guest that thought it was perfectly fine to take her finger after serving herself, and wipe the serving spoon clean then stick it back in the food and lick her finger off. Then go to the next item. She was a professional over 40, and seemed rather surprised when I grabbed the spoon before it could hit the food again and got another one. She didn’t wash hands either and I wasn’t going to deal, no, you don’t do that here. But there’s all this good food left stuck on the spoon… and the next one she was going to take the fork that had been in her mouth and clean it off. No, you don’t do that here either. Unless you’re taking the last bite, the food isn’t going to go to waste.

    I think her doppleganger is the one the OP reported on. You mention it to them and they look at you like you crawled from under a rock. They’re not four anymore…

  • Anna May 23, 2016, 10:24 am


    I don’t have advice, but this does remind me of a similar experience from my childhood. I was at a birthday party for a friend–not someone I knew particularly well, and I certainly did not know her family. When it came time for cake and ice cream, we all sat down at the table, and her mother went around the table scooping out ice cream from a carton with a large spoon instead of an ice cream scoop. For each child, she slid the ice cream off the spoon and into each child’s dish with her finger, which she then licked. She repeated this process for each child, poking each scoop of ice cream with her finger and then licking it. When she came to me I promptly said NO THANK YOU!! I was so horrified that here I am, 30 years later, with the image of her pushing her spit-covered finger into each bowl of ice cream as clear in my mind as if it happened yesterday.

    What is wrong with people?!?

  • PhDeath May 23, 2016, 11:24 am

    I agree that the OP handled the situation gracefully.

    Reading this gave me the big SHUDDER. I admit that I have issues that make me uneasy about germs and contamination that go far beyond the standard. For that reason (and many others!), I am delighted that I no longer work in a typical office setting.

    For instance, I had a former colleague with whom I would often have to peruse lengthy, hard-copy documents. She would repeatedly lick her finger to turn the pages, as I sat there picturing all of the bacteria being transferred to the pages I knew I would have to touch.

    I didn’t want to bring it up, as I realized how potentially over-the-top it sounded. I tried placing one of those rubber finger-cover-thingies intended for page-turning on the table when I was setting up for a meeting (not in front of her, mind you), but she ignored it and licked away.

    I reiterate: working from home is the best! 😉

    • Queen of Putrescence May 23, 2016, 1:01 pm

      I hate it when people lick their fingers when reading library books, going over documents or handing out papers!

      • Just4Kicks May 24, 2016, 6:49 am

        My step-grandmother used to do with magazines, I thought it was gross too.

        • Kim May 24, 2016, 9:19 am

          That’s my pet peeve!

          My husband and his family did it. I told him I was going to divorce him if he continued.

  • Kay_L May 23, 2016, 11:55 am

    Last week, I was eating half a cookie. I broke it in half and gave the other half to my companion, who promptly put it to her mouth. Then, noticing my half, she took her half out of her mouth, grabbed mine and put it in her mouth. She was still holding her half in her other hand and it was near my face so I took a bite of it. Boy, was she surprised!

    Of course, she’s only 8 months old and it was her second sugar cookie ever!

    At a certain age we develop a sense of disgust. Whereas before, if we find a bug in our juice, we would just pluck the bug out and keep drinking, we would now pour out all the juice.

    And as we get older and become parents or grandparents we put down our sense of disgust to deal with our messy (or greedy!) offspring! (I once licked a gob of chocolate pudding off my own kid’s face-I think he was about 20 months old!)

    Why some people never develop a sense that we all have this disgust or at least some manners, I don’t know. It’s very true that one needn’t make a federal case about the germ situation in someone licking a spoon. Noir guts have an amazing ability to dispatch those kinds of bacteria. (Not to be confused with the bacteria from leaving food out, etc). And as long as the rube licking the spoon doesn’t have yellow fever, no one need fear for their lives.

    (Side note: my mother’s infant sister died because someone gave her a bottle that had been in the mouth of a son child-she contracted the same and presished.)

    But, how do you know, right?

    Nowadays, some offices discourage home made items because of the chance they could cause illness.

    And let’s be clear, at a certain age, the ingredients of that cake are simply not good for you!

    But, I digress.

    I just spent a week with my sister who is a decade older than I. Her bluntness sometimes caught me off guard– not in her speaking to me but in speaking to others. Her voice was sweet but her intent was very direct. Maybe a little too direct? I don’t know but she doesn’t usually have questions along these lines being so comfortable taking care of business.

    If she saw someone doing that she would likely, mmediately say, “don’t put that back on the cake after it’s been in your mouth!” Whether or not the person may have intended to do so.

    I think that, especially in the presence of others, you should show clear intent only contaminating the serving utensil or your fingers, while walking away from the cake and towards the sink where you wash both!

    People shouldn’t have to wonder what your next move is going to be.

    That said, I would not want to have known what this woman did.

    • Lanes May 25, 2016, 7:53 pm

      Cute story about your daughter! I can just imagine her wee face, I’m sure my toddler would have the same face if I did that.

      It is quite strange how, when it’s your own off-spring, the ick factor reduces substantially. Getting pee’d on by a stranger – need a bath in acid to feel clean again; get pee’d on by your baby – quick wash with soap, or even a wipe down with a baby wipe.

      My husband has taken time to reduce his ick factor around food from said toddler though. He will still only eat the toddler leftovers that haven’t been bitten into. For me, if it’s not slobbery and gross, I’ll eat it. Waste not want not, right?

    • Cat May 26, 2016, 10:04 am

      Reminds me of the lady in New York who carefully sanitized everything around her first born. She was very proud of the care she took with his health.
      When he was toddler, she took him with her down the steps to the New York City subway, holding his hand to help him down the stairs. Only when she looked down at him did she realize that he had happily been running his tongue down the hand rail of the New York City subway system.

      • Queen of Putrescence May 27, 2016, 6:14 am

        Oh that is disgusting!

        She probably wasn’t doing her child’s immune system any favors by sanitizing everything around him. Best to be exposed to a few germs (but probably not as many as inn the hand rail!) so when he started kindergarten he didn’t come down with every childhood illness and infection under the sun!

  • AppleEye May 23, 2016, 12:12 pm

    Ok, so I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she did this absentmindedly, without realizing…but seriously, ew. I think you did the right thing at the time, but maybe mention it to her now, as in “you probably didn’t even realize you did this, but…”

  • Library Diva May 23, 2016, 12:12 pm

    I think OP did the right thing.

    This still isn’t the most disgusting communal food story I’ve ever heard, though. That honor belongs to a story told by my late mother. She worked in an elementary school, so there were often treats in the “mimeograph room” from birthday celebrations. My mom was in there, working, when the school’s principal came in, picked up a cupcake, LICKED IT, and then set it back down and walked out. My mom threw it out once the woman was gone.

    • Just4Kicks May 24, 2016, 6:52 am

      Ew! Good for you for disposing of it.
      Remember a few months back when Ariana Grande picked up a donut in a donut shop, licked it, then put it back?

  • JD May 23, 2016, 12:27 pm

    OP, sometimes I’m quick enough on my feet to say, “Excuse me, that needs to be washed now” before she laid it back down, but a lot of times, I’m not. I would have washed it, as you did, and debated with myself all day on the slices it touched, but probably I would have left them, too. We had a double dipper at work once, and we all hurried up to get our dip out before she got to the bowl, because once she had touched it, no one else would. Another co-worker finally told her to stop double-dipping, please, which seemed to work. If we had told her the first time, we could have saved ourselves a lot of “ew” factor.
    Then there was the time I found myself in a restaurant where the chips and salsa were shared down the table at a large gathering, and well into the meal, I realized suddenly to my horror that I had been talking busily and double dipping while talking! I was so actively engaged in the conversation and so used to double dipping with my husband that I hadn’t even stopped to think. Maybe Jane just needs to be made aware of what she’s doing.

  • Michelleprieur May 23, 2016, 1:08 pm

    Admins advice is great, but unfortunately there was most likely no time to say anything. I’ve licked my share of frosting off of utensils, only in my home I promise, and sadly the frosting is gone lickety split. The OP handled it well and I would avoid her in the future. Ewww.

  • Ginny May 23, 2016, 1:14 pm

    While I’m not condoning the actions of the frosting snitch (it is rude and kind of icky), I would NEVER consider throwing away several slices of cake for such a minor infraction… as Marie noted, it’s highly unlikely anyone would get sick from such small contact… But then I live in Wisconsin, where when you get a bug in your beer you just fish it out and finish drinking because: Beer! Also, when my mother would tell out little neighbor girls to be sure to wash the strawberries she allowed them to pick from her garden, they just laughed and said “Dad says everyone’s gotta eat a little dirt sometime!”

  • MsDani313 May 23, 2016, 1:18 pm

    I think I would have said “You’re going to wash that right???”

    I know that we come in contact with germs all the time but as a person with a compromised immune system I’m flabbergasted at people’s behaviors.

    I had a coworker come to work sick, use my office (so as not to share the germs with everyone else) and not tell me until I mentioned I was taking off due to illness. “Guess I should have wiped your office down when I left.” Followed by a laugh!

    Germs that may not cause sickness in others can cause full blown respiratory issues for me. I become accustomed to being vigilant but sometimes carelessness like the OP described puts me out of commission.

    • Michelle May 25, 2016, 10:13 am

      When I worked for HeadStart, I was sick for almost a month from people using my office/phone when I was gone! I came down with strep the week before spring break, got better during the week off and got it again a few days after I came back. Turns out staff were basically breaking into my office when I was gone (old building, only door handle locks that you could pop open with butter knives) and using my phone. Lo and behold one of them had strep and I guess my phone handle got “infected”. 3 teachers came down with it and through some investigating I found out that had been going into my office after I left at 5 and using the phone. Since then, I religiously clean my phone handle everyday.

  • The Elf May 23, 2016, 2:38 pm

    I’m a huge fan of licking the utensils (and the beaters!) to get all the yummy goodness…. AFTER I am completely done with them and I am seconds away from washing them. I’m not even the slightest bit germaphobic and it seems really obvious to me why you would never want to do this partway through.

    I would have done just as you did – wash the serving utensil, left the cake alone. Realistically, it is unlikely that she’d pass anything on by just that minimal contact.

    • NostalgicGal May 24, 2016, 12:37 am

      I have gotten salmonella from cookie dough. I never lick beaters or bowl any more if it contains raw eggs. Most raw egg salmonella is shell-contamination, but. It just takes once. I quit drinking eggnog, my absolutely favorite drink ever, because of that. 3 of my 5 salmonella incidents involved eggs, one was tuna casserole, one was a purchased frozen pizza that was taken home promptly (two blocks) and immediately cooked and consumed. The guess was it was allowed to thaw somewhere before I purchased it. Now if it doesn’t have eggs, it’s fair game… heh.

      • The Elf May 24, 2016, 10:38 am

        Everyone has a hill that they are willing to die on. Mine is made from raw cookie dough.

        • NostalgicGal May 24, 2016, 3:49 pm

          If that is what gives you pleasure, by all means, enjoy. I just wished to point out that there is a risk and I have paid that price and don’t choose to do so again. As a small child that was something I lived for, licking the beaters, the spatula, or the bowl. Mmmmm….

        • RyosGirl May 24, 2016, 7:43 pm

          Love everything about this comment! 🙂

      • Livvy17 June 7, 2016, 10:16 am

        Just a tip – if you’d like to be able to enjoy eggnog again….you can pasteurize your own eggs – put them in a pan, and heat the water to 140 degrees f, and keep it there for about 5 minutes. It’s a bit fussy to manage the temperature…much hotter and the eggs will cook, but it’s not too hard. I do this when I make royal icing, or other things with uncooked eggs. (though my own eggnog has so much booze in it, I figure it’s killed any germs anyway. Lol. )

  • stacey May 23, 2016, 3:19 pm

    This makes me think that food should just NOT be left unattended. There are, apparently, too many people who either don’t think or don’t care. If you’re serving cake to a group, stay and serve it. If you are serving drinks or food, do the same. It’s just too provoking to deal with the need to either dispose of food due to someone else’s lack of consideration or to try and stomach a community consuming food and drink fouled by an errant, self-centered misanthrope!

    There was an anecdote on another etiquette forum asking if a lady erred in attending an event with a minor stomach bug. She had no visible symptoms other than feeling queasy BUT she handled the common serving trays and implements. Subsequently, over half of those seated at her table were violently ill. Now- possibly she wasn’t the source. The issue could have arisen with contaminated or poorly stored and prepared product. But what will be concluded about her? Typhoid Mary…. She was later taken to task for attending by those seated with her, since she remarked when refreshments were served that she was unable to eat due to feeling ill and somewhat queasy.

    Tongs, scoops, spatulas and implements of all shapes and sizes are available to aid in serving a group (including inexpensive and disposable versions). Hence, no one should have need to touch communal food with their bare hands. (And if you’re mildly ill, or severely ill… for the love of Tylenol, Pepto and Nyquil, make your excuses and STAY HOME!)

  • Girl in the stix May 23, 2016, 3:38 pm

    I think I might have tried to take a humorous approach when she first finger-licked the server, and said “Well I hope you don’t have a cold!” in case she didn’t realize what she was doing. But it may have fallen on deaf ears–people can be clueless.

  • Shalamar May 23, 2016, 3:48 pm

    That reminds me of an anecdote I read once. The OP had visited a bakery with the intent of buying some cookies. The bakery employee was busy eating a cupcake behind the counter, and when she saw that she had a customer, she quickly finished the cupcake, licked her fingers, and said “How can I help you?” OP said politely “The first thing you can do is wash your hands and put on some gloves before you serve me, please.” The employee gaped at her like she’d lost her mind, and so did her boss – because he hadn’t seen what she’d done. When OP explained why she’d made her request, Boss was furious with the employee and told her to go wash her hands and put on some gloves, NOW!

  • AS May 23, 2016, 3:53 pm

    I find it pretty gross when people lick public food items! I wouldn’t expect that adults should do it, but still, I have seen way too many people double-dip! Eww!

    Anyway, coming back to the cake, only one side of the knife would contain her saliva. Next time,try telling her what the admin said. I might say something to the effect of “I hope that you plan to wash that server before putting it back for other people.

    • ErinAnn May 23, 2016, 8:02 pm

      Who knows if she washes her hands? That icks me out equally.

      • iwadasn May 24, 2016, 12:17 pm

        But both sides of it would have germs from her hands, and who knows when she last washed them? If she’s willing to do something so unsanitary with communal food, she’s most likely also the type to not wash her hands after using the bathroom.

  • GeenaG May 23, 2016, 4:30 pm

    I’m OK with leaving a note explaining to everyone what happened, that way people have the facts and can decide for themselves. If she’s going to do unsanitary things like that she darn well own them. I would not be OK with just not saying anything and letting others unknowingly eat contaminated food. This demonstrates why I just never eat food that’s been left out. Unless I see it unwrapped, I will take a pass.

  • Tara May 23, 2016, 7:18 pm

    Stories of gross people like this is how I manage to keep from eating treats people bring in. You just never know what other people consider proper food handling!

  • RyosGirl May 23, 2016, 7:40 pm

    I had an experience at a popular sandwich chain once where due to its downtown location, the store kept the inside washroom locked and you had to ask an employee for the key. I watched someone come out and hand the key to the employee who hung it on its hook, didn’t change her gloves and then asked me what she could get for me. When I asked her to please change her gloves, she gave me a questioning look and when I mentioned that she had just handled the bathroom key without changing gloves she actually rolled her eyes at me and my “crazy request”. I decided to eat elsewhere.

  • barb May 23, 2016, 7:40 pm

    I have stopped going to a local potluck dinner because of their habit of letting people re-use plates for seconds. Germs go from mouth to fork to dinner plate, then up for seconds and the server goes tap-tap on the (germy) dinner plate with the serving utensil, and then it goes back in the communal food. Ugh.

    • Cat May 25, 2016, 2:17 pm

      Thank you for explaining this. I saw the rule posted and followed it without knowing why. Now I see the point.

  • crebj May 23, 2016, 9:33 pm

    A story to tell on myself: I was threading needles at a sewing demo for children. And as I always do, I moistened the end of the thread by licking it. (Anyone else learn to thread a needle that way?) The dead silence reminded me that I wasn’t at home threading for my own sewing. The rest of the needles were threaded without licking.

    • L.J. May 24, 2016, 9:28 am

      I do that with thread too. Never thought about it as germy, but I guess it is.

      • Anna Wood May 26, 2016, 1:16 am

        No need to lick thread, I use a chunk of beeswax to stiffen the thread end so it will go easily through the eye of the needle.

    • Becca May 24, 2016, 12:13 pm

      At least with sewing, you’re not asking anyone to eat the thread after you put it in your mouth.

      I’ve always done it that way and find nothing wrong with it, since it’s not the same as licking a spoon before someone else uses it to serve themselves!

    • InTheEther May 24, 2016, 7:36 pm

      I was taught to lick/suck on the end of good watercolor brushes before you put them away in college. The good stuff made out of mink is a little expensive to replace if the tip gets ragged. The saliva stiffens the threads and sticks them together so you keep a nice sharp point and can make fine lines. My family looked at me like I was crazy the first time they saw me do it at home.

  • clairedelune May 23, 2016, 11:56 pm

    You did fine, OP. The server definitely needed to be washed. But the cake probably was not ultimately affected that much.

  • Mojo May 24, 2016, 1:56 am

    It’s ill-educated, ill-mannered and bit gross, but as others have said, it’s unlikely to be hazardous. You couldn’t stop her so you did the right thing by washing the server and letting it pass.

    Of course, if you get a similar opportunity with Jane in future, grab that chance with both hands and gently teach her why that’s not acceptable behaviour in the workplace.

  • catwoman2965 May 24, 2016, 7:54 am

    Ugh. This reminds me of an incident with my one boss, actually, the director of my dept. He has no manners whatsoever, and I seem to recall being told he also did not wash his hands when exiting the men’s room.

    So we’re out for a dept. lunch, and bread is brought to the table, and placed in front of me. As I was taught, I picked it up and passed it first before taking any. Passed it to him, and rather than being individual slices, it was like a roll, sliced 3/4 through so you pulled it apart. So he picks up the entire thing, rips it in half, and puts half down in the basket, looks at the one he’s still holding, puts that in the basket, and picks up the one he initially put down. Never mind he took half the bread, he touched all of it! Then when it came to me, I politely declined.

    Going forward, I always take bread before him, when I can, or if not, I decline. So very disgusting.

    What I do, since bread like that usually is in a napkin, is I will hold the one end, using the napkin, and only touch the piece I’ll be taking.

  • Anon May 24, 2016, 8:57 am

    OP, I would have done the same thing–washed the utensil but left the cake. Unless Jane was sick, there is little actual risk from the germs that were transferred. I think it’s just psychologically gross to witness her licking the utensil and setting it down unwashed for others to use. I would keep my eye on her at any future potlucks, though, that’s for sure.

  • iwadasn May 24, 2016, 12:13 pm

    How does anyone who’s not a toddler think that doing that is acceptable?

  • Lerah99 May 24, 2016, 12:39 pm

    I went to a chain sandwich shop right as the person in front of me was paying.
    The woman behind the counter took the cash with her gloved hand and handed out the change with the same gloved hand.

    Then she came to me and asked what kind of bread I wanted.

    I asked her to change her gloves and she said, “Ummm, the gloves are for my protection. I only have to change them when I feel the need.”

    I explained that since she’d touched money with those gloves, the gloves were dirty and I didn’t want them touching my food.

    The manager walked out to see what the problem was. When I explained it, he actually said “No one else has ever had a problem. She’s wearing gloves, so her hands are clean.” As if having her hand inside the glove be clean was the issue. She wanted to touch my food with the dirty glove.

    I decided to get lunch somewhere else and left.

    • Margaret May 24, 2016, 3:56 pm

      If you would report it, your local health department would probably have a fascinating talk with that manager and employee.

      • NostalgicGal May 25, 2016, 10:17 pm

        I would’ve hit record when I talked to the manager about it, and turned that in. Bet that would have been a really interesting talk…. (a lot of us have smartphones now, you have the ability to record in your hand…. or take pictures)

    • Becca May 25, 2016, 9:36 am

      I’ve heard this happening before and I’m still stunned. Don’t these people have to go through food handlers safety training for a reason?

      Either have a dedicated cashier who doesn’t have to touch the food too or switch your gloves. I’ve always seen most folks around here always take their gloves off to use the register and put on a fresh pair when they start a new sandwich.

      “These are for my protection.”

      LOL WHAT?!

      Why would you need protection unless she’s allergic to something she’s serving? Whoever trained her and the manager should be ashamed of themselves. I wish you would have reported it to the health inspection office, a surprise inspection with a violation like that could save people from getting ill.

      Money is so gross, I still can’t believe the amount of people who don’t get money sees before it finds itself in your pocket book.

      • NostalgicGal May 26, 2016, 3:16 pm

        The coinage nowdays always looks so gross, I don’t remember it looking that bad as a kid. And paper? In the 1980s a police department decided that they would test paper money to see if it was cocaine or heroin contaminated. Should be easy to trace drug money… they went through typical registers and some bank tills and found 85% of the money was drug contaminated, enough to show up with their testing methods. Even credit cards, where was that card last and the hand that handed it over last… and what crud is in the scanner slot? No thanks.

    • Nicole May 27, 2016, 9:36 am

      Actually…. money is not identified by all health departments as a disease vector. So the employee and the manager would not have been required to change gloves.


      “Must I change my gloves after touching money with gloves on?

      No. Food outbreak investigations have not identified the handling of money as a cause of illness. But it is a good idea to change your gloves and wash your hands between touching money and preparing food. Many patrons complain to the local health department if they see food workers using the same gloves to prepare food and handle money.”

      Now I’m not saying it’s a good idea, and I would probably do the same thing as you and go somewhere else if they argued with me. But while it’s a good idea, it’s not a rule.

  • Ashley May 24, 2016, 2:08 pm

    Oh ew…and what if she’s not even the first person who took the frosting off the server that day?

    I would have said something, politely. Something to the effect of “Please wash the serving utensil, other people still have to use it today. And throw away the slice of cake you left. Thank you”

  • kingsrings May 25, 2016, 12:29 am

    Years ago I was at a friend’s birthday party and as her birthday cake was about to be served, her young daughter and niece started swiping the frosting off with their fingers, licking it off, and repeating. None of the adults stopped them. Then my friend’s mother started to serve me a thoroughly-licked piece of cake! I declined, and they laughed and said I obviously didn’t have kids. Kids or not, I can’t believe that anyone would findicate that acceptable.

    • NostalgicGal May 25, 2016, 12:52 pm

      My mom would have tanned my bottom for that. After three, I should know better than to steal frosting, especially repeatedly. I agree, I wouldn’t have considered that acceptable either, and would have refused the cake.

    • Michelle May 26, 2016, 8:05 am

      I have 2 kids and I do not eat after them, nor would I allow them to do keep swiping & licking cake! They would get slices with licked frosting and I would have started serving guests from the other side.

      • Amanda H. May 26, 2016, 6:01 pm

        I have four kids, and while I would eat cake they’d licked and not finished with no hesitation, there’s no way I would expect anyone else (other than my husband, and possibly my kids’ grandparents) to eat cake they’d licked. Sure, having kids can get rid of a lot of your ick factor about your own kids, but that doesn’t mean other people have to share that opinion.

  • girl_with_all_the_yarn May 25, 2016, 10:16 am

    On the one hand, ew. On the other, I’ve worked food service and even in the nicest restaurants the food that comes out of the kitchen is substantially grosser. I’d just wash it and put it back. It’s no worse than literally anything at any restaurant you’ve eaten at. I can pretty much guarantee it.

  • Cat May 25, 2016, 2:22 pm

    It is not only utensils. I handed a friend a box of chocolates. He chose one, bit off half, decided he didn’t like it, put the other half back in the box, chose another chocolate, bit off half, put the other half in the box… At that point I recovered enough to explain that he had to eat the ones he had bitten into. No one would want to eat half of a chocolate that he had already bitten in twain.
    He was shocked at that rule.

    • kingsrings May 26, 2016, 2:05 pm

      Something similar happened recently at my workplace. We received several boxes of chocolates as gifts and one of my co-workers needed to know what was inside each one due to food allergies, so she was picking at them with her fingernails to see the insides. If it wasn’t acceptable, she would just put them back. She saw nothing wrong with that. I got a couple of knives out abd told her to cut them in half instead.

    • NostalgicGal May 26, 2016, 10:46 pm

      This is people at the grocery store that decide to open peanutbutter, stick finger in and get a good swipe and close it back up and put it back. I’ve learned to test the lid on everything that’s not plastic sealed. Or someone that was caught opening salad dressing bottles, stick a finger in it, taste it, put it back, and protested when they were caught ‘well how can I decide which one I want, then?’ …

      • Queen of Putrescence May 27, 2016, 2:00 pm

        I was shopping at a large national retailer that I no longer shop and purchased a jar of ice cream fudge. Open it that night to put on the dessert that I was serving to company and the lid didn’t pop when opened. I looked in and someone had scooped out a large amount with their finger.

        The next day I took it back to customer service and while I got my money back, the clerk was completely blasé about it. It was obvious that this was a common occurrence in their store. If I need to buy anything from that chain (sometimes they carry items that I can’t get anywhere else) I make sure I only buy items that can’t be tampered with.

        • NostalgicGal May 30, 2016, 8:17 pm

          There’s a particular brand of first aid and related supplies sold by one store in town, the stuff has no safety seals. I wanted to purchase a jar of cheap vapo-rub, and found that every single container had been opened, someone ran a finger through them, one had a booger plainly visible in the jar. I refuse to buy anything of that brand anymore.

    • Annie May 27, 2016, 10:49 am

      I have a friend who has very different taste in chocolate than I, so sometimes we go through a box of chocolate together. Anything I bite into and don’t like I hand to him, and vice-versa. That way we avoid leaving gross half-eaten chocolates, or wasting precious chocolate resources.

  • TeamBhakta May 25, 2016, 2:57 pm

    Which is why you then “accidentally” dump the cake into the trash can, ensuring nobody eats it; tell everyone it fell on the ground. Or you grab a manager & inform them “Just a heads up, I am throwing out the cake. I saw someone contaminate it with their fingers. I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble, but that’s gross & unsafe.”

  • Ant May 26, 2016, 5:10 am

    I would have confronted her about wiping the utensil but not done anything with the cake and I’m surprised how many people are prepared to bin it. Though I can be counted in the “I have kids” school I have also had experience in food manufacturing.

    I agree it is a bit disgusting to see and may put you off a bit but as a point of fact it’s not that unsafe and the cake was probably heavily contaminated with far worse germs and substances before she got near it. I think a little spit from a healthy person is probably the least of your worries. Whether it was produced at home or in a factory. I won’t go into all the details but if you even feel like not eating you can always look into something like the FDA regulations. You’ll probably be surprised to find that for may foods the acceptable amount rodent hairs, maggots, mold, feces etc is not zero.

    • NostalgicGal May 26, 2016, 3:23 pm

      Read how many rat feces and grasshopper parts are legal per cup of peanut butter and you’ll never eat it again.

      Most of the peanut butter factories, they set them up and run them until the machines die. The hoorah some years back about mold in the peanut butter, some of those facilities had been running without cleaning since they were started up, aka four years or more. So what did the place do? Replace the ducting and that with the mold that was found, and keep going.

      I quit buying and eating a particular expensive kosher hot dog brand when I opened a pack, boiled them and picked from the pot a hotdog with a perfect ratbite out of it. I had kept rats, and I knew what a perfect upper and lower four tooth nip looks like. I sent them a picture and never got anything back. Kosher my (deleted).

      • Becca May 27, 2016, 10:41 am

        Also the filth in the container ships that produce is imported in. Then the thought that people don’t wash them . Then when people say “a little dirt don’t hurt”, my response is “But what about the poop they use to fertilize?”

  • Livvy17 June 7, 2016, 10:31 am

    I think a lot of times, people are just in their own little worlds, and forget that they are handling food that will be shared with others, or are just not thinking.

    My own mother would have lectured me to no end about touching food with my fingers, but unfortunately, recently, I’ve caught her licking her fingers between serving pieces of cake, etc. I doubt she realizes she’s doing it.

    I also agree that it’s really not much of a health risk. Quite frankly, it’s actually beneficial to be exposed to a certain amount of germs…the immune system needs the practice. They’ve found that people who create too much of a sterile environment around themselves are more prone to longer and more severe bouts of illness, as their bodies haven’t encountered pathogens before to learn how to defeat them, etc. I’m not saying I’d go around licking subway handrails, but likely the handle of the cake server is dirtier from multiple hands touching it than the blade is from a trace amount of one person’s saliva. (also, the digestive tract is well equipped to handle bacterial challenges, and new research shows that exposure to other digestive bacteria can be beneficial! Good thing, or we’d all be too grossed out to ever kiss anyone again!)