maybenot Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 4:52am
post #1 of

I received my July/August issue of American Cake Decorating magazine today.  The final article in the issue begins with the author telling readers to use a graphite pencil to draw a complex design on a white fondant covered cake.

 

PLEASE DON'T DO THIS!!!

 

Although in another section, the author also gives the option to use a very light color food safe marker, the use of a graphite pencil is what is most obvious in the accompanying photo instructions.

 

Obviously, the food safe marker is the perfect way to do this and there are many other ways to get a pattern on a cake--using a tool, a cutter, a pin, a toothpick, etc.

 

Years ago, using a pencil to transfer a pattern to a cake was acceptable practice and some cake decorating books and courses actually taught it.  This was before the advent of edible markers, impression mats, etc., and perhaps even before people even thought--or cared--much about edibility and food safety.  Around the same time, some people were painting cakes with acrylic craft paints because, of course, they were non-toxic...............

 

But, this is 2013 and things have changed.  There are other, better food safe options like I mentioned above.

 

I don't care that as far as "you" know, no one has ever gotten sick from it (who really, honestly "knows" that?).  I don't care that it's the way you were taught.  I don't care that kids eat pencils--many eat their own poop, too, and I don't put that on my cakes, either.  I don't care that it's not "a lot" of graphite.  I don't care that there are other, more harmful things to worry about.  I don't care that "everyone else is doing it" or that "everyone else is doing a lot worse than that".

 

Today, I care about knowing about food safe options and actually USING them, not rationalizing about why and how NOT to use them.

 

I won't argue with people who feel compelled to say it's OK to write on cakes with pencils.  I'm saying that I don't think that it is OK because techniques have evolved to provide better options.

40 replies
kikiandkyle Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 5:13am
post #2 of

Can I just ask why? People think it's not safe for a variety of reasons but I wanted to know what is behind your particular reasoning.

maybenot Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 5:16am
post #3 of

Really???

 

As I said, there are several other food safe options.  Graphite is NOT edible, nor is it considered food safe and that's all that needs to be said.

mcaulir Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 5:27am
post #4 of

Oh, the matter must be closed then.

kikiandkyle Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 5:31am
post #5 of

Not considered food safe or edible by who? 

ApplegumPam Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 5:32am
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcaulir 

Oh, the matter must be closed then.


:)  Think this is the best course of action

bct806 Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 5:53am
post #7 of

While I agree with you that they shouldn't be used, everyone IS entitled to their own opinion. Right or wrong as it may be. Sometimes I feel as though we are overly cautious these days. I used to chew on my pencils and pens all the time and I don't sit around licking the walls because of it. 

kikiandkyle Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 6:02am
post #8 of

There are opinions and then there are scientific facts. Although I do live in Texas where those lines tend to blur!

 

Graphite is non-toxic and is therefore technically edible. Does that mean you should eat a pencil for breakfast? No. But if you wiped your counters down with anything containing bleach and then put food on them you're in more danger than you would be eating my cake with a faint pencil line drawn on it.

Evoir Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 6:23am
post #9 of

AI don't write on my cakes with pencil...but, you do know that graphite is just a soft form of pure carbon, right? As carbon is the basic unit of all organic molecules, and we are composed of 18% carbon, and carbon in the form of charcoal is given to patients who have ingested poisons to assist in its absorption, I'm going to have to say that scientifically speaking, a faint line of graphite across the back of my piece of cake I'm eating is not going to bother me.

If you bake from boxed mixes, the vast list of non-organic additives as listed on the packet are probably going to be a bigger concern!

bct806 Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 6:46am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir 

If you bake from boxed mixes, the vast list of non-organic additives as listed on the packet are probably going to be a bigger concern!

Completely agree. SO many chemicals in that stuff. 

cakefat Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 9:15am
Quote:
Originally Posted by kikiandkyle 

There are opinions and then there are scientific facts. Although I do live in Texas where those lines tend to blur!

 

haha! funniest thing I've read all day. thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir 


If you bake from boxed mixes, the vast list of non-organic additives as listed on the packet are probably going to be a bigger concern!
 

 No doubt!  Thank you!

Punkilicious Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 1:02pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir 

I don't write on my cakes with pencil...but, you do know that graphite is just a soft form of pure carbon, right? As carbon is the basic unit of all organic molecules, and we are composed of 18% carbon, and carbon in the form of charcoal is given to patients who have ingested poisons to assist in its absorption, I'm going to have to say that scientifically speaking, a faint line of graphite across the back of my piece of cake I'm eating is not going to bother me.

If you bake from boxed mixes, the vast list of non-organic additives as listed on the packet are probably going to be a bigger concern!

I know when my son is ill, I burn a piece of toast for him to eat and absorb all that is bothering his stomach. Carbon/graphite is safe to use. It gives you more control than an edible marker, scoring or poking into a cake. It also makes corrections much easier if you make a mistake.

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 1:14pm

I'd actually be a lot more concerned with what was on the pencil/where it was stored, than I would be with what is IN the pencil.

I had toxic poisoning, and as a result my digestive system was totally destroyed, I was actually given graphite pills to help with it. My only concern with pencils would be that they are not produced in a food safe environment, and are rarely stored in one.

 

My pencils are all in my 'junk' drawer, and who knows what goes on in there :/ hehe

 

I must be out of the loop though, because I wasn't aware that people used pencils on cakes. I've never had the need.

yortma Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 1:35pm

As you know, pencils do not contain lead, but are made of graphite which is a carbon based material.  Sometimes the "lead" also contains inert clay for smoother writing. Both of these pass through the system essentially unchanged.   I searched graphite toxicity, and there is a paucity of information, leading one to suspect that there has not been issues. Given the number of individuals who chew on pencils with no problems, I am not surprised.   I found a few cases of nausea and vomiting in individuals who ate huge amounts ( boxes of pencil lead refills).  Anything becomes toxic, even water, at some point.  As long as you don't stab yourself with it or shove it up your nose, it is unlikely to cause any problems, especially in the minute amounts being discussed here.  That being said, I agree that if edible alternatives are available, it is best to be conservative and do the safest thing. I do not write on my cakes with pencil, but I don't worry about it if there is some pencil marking on my parchment cake liners.   *Disclaimer - I am not a graphite specialist, and this is my opinion only.  

kikiandkyle Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 1:45pm

AThere is an authority that certifies pencils as being completely non-toxic, from the lead to the wood to the paint on the outside, so you can look for PMA certified if you want to be sure.

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 3:26pm

I remember, decades ago, a brief magazine article about "lead in pencils, but not in the lead"; it seems that at the time, some pencil manufacturers were using lead paint on pencils.

 

At any rate, not my problem; as anybody else here who's also on FPN would know, my writing instrument of choice is a fountain pen. And no, I don't have one with food-safe ink in it.

ApplegumPam Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 11:02pm

Gosh, IF the hygiene of the TIP of the pencil bothers you - sharpen it before use.... it ensures any 'nasties' are removed with the twist of a blade

 

Have to say I am sitting here shaking my head with all this fuss......   do you know that Americans eat so many foods containing things that are banned in so many other countries.....  like in your MILK  for instance

 

As they say .... Ignorance is BLISS

kikiandkyle Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 11:03pm

ALol, true dat!

jason_kraft Posted 3 Jul 2013 , 11:55pm

A

Original message sent by ApplegumPam

Gosh, IF the hygiene of the TIP of the pencil bothers you - sharpen it before use.... it ensures any 'nasties' are removed with the twist of a blade

Just be sure you are using a food-safe pencil sharpener. If any non-food-safe pencils have been used in the sharpener, you'll need to sanitize the sharpener using bleach. The bleach container itself should be sanitized as well, as should the cabinet where the bleach is stored. Of course this should all be done in a negative pressure clean room while wearing biohazard suits to ensure there is no contamination from airborne particles.

ApplegumPam Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 12:10am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ApplegumPam 

Gosh, IF the hygiene of the TIP of the pencil bothers you - sharpen it before use.... it ensures any 'nasties' are removed with the twist of a blade


Just be sure you are using a food-safe pencil sharpener. If any non-food-safe pencils have been used in the sharpener, you'll need to sanitize the sharpener using bleach. The bleach container itself should be sanitized as well, as should the cabinet where the bleach is stored. Of course this should all be done in a negative pressure clean room while wearing biohazard suits to ensure there is no contamination from airborne particles.

 

OMG....  I think I see a glimpse of humour there Mr Kraft...  surely not??  who'd a thought it possible   hehehehehehee  (sorry THATS my humour!)

AND whilst you are THINKING about all of this 'SAFE, SAFE, SAFE" food practices... how about REALLY thinking about what the US government deems SAFE to be in your food  -  if you produced flour in Singapore the way they are allowed to in the USA you would face a half a million dollar fine and risk gaol time of 15 years.
Yes - you ARE eating it if you are living in the USA (unless you are sourcing it specifically to avoid it)

Bleaching agents... bulking agents  etc ......   BANNED in most countries

The colour used in Mac N Cheese.... Yep - ALSO banned in most countries

 

BUT..... let's worry about the carbon in the 'pencil'

Not wanting to stir a hornets nest here - but just saying .... people worry about 'wire in cake',   using fresh flowers on cakes, writing on cakes with pencil etc etc BUT they could care less WHAT is in the RAW INGREDIENTS they are using.   I say keep up the research.... demand more from your Government.... and THINK about what you are putting into your mouth.... and those of your children !

cakefat Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 1:36am

personally I don't think this thread should become about nationality or a "look what Americans eat/do" etc etc.

 

LOTS of people eat crap food all around the world. Australians, Singaporeans included -the list goes on. There are chav eaters all over the world. 

 

Also- it's a bit biased and unjust to bring the laws of Singapore vs USA laws into discussion as Singapore has a law for everything (I live here, so I know!)..so that's truly not a fair comparison. At all.  Also it's a country that imports everything practically.

 

All this being said, the love and affection for processed foods, box mixes and high ratio shortening in the US is a bit sad..but there are plenty of Americans who do not eat that junk- and never have. It's a big country. 

 

jmo

ApplegumPam Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 1:54am
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakefat 

personally I don't think this thread should become about nationality or a "look what Americans eat/do" etc etc.

 

LOTS of people eat crap food all around the world. Australians, Singaporeans included -the list goes on. There are chav eaters all over the world. 

 

Also- it's a bit biased and unjust to bring the laws of Singapore vs USA laws into discussion as Singapore has a law for everything (I live here, so I know!)..so that's truly not a fair comparison. At all.  Also it's a country that imports everything practically.

 

All this being said, the love and affection for processed foods, box mixes and high ratio shortening in the US is a bit sad..but there are plenty of Americans who do not eat that junk- and never have. It's a big country. 

 

jmo


You misunderstand - this was not having a go at people who are eating JUNK food

 

It was more to alert people to LOOK at what IS in their food - the supposedly 'natural' foods that they consume daily, THINKING that they are unadulterated.....  LIKE milk !!    or flour !

 

kikiandkyle Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 2:08am

I used to work at McDonalds when I was a teen back in the UK, it amazed me that parents would think they were so high and mighty because they'd order the chicken nuggets for their kids rather than the mad cow hamburgers! 

 

There are a lot of weird contradictions here in the US. I have one friend who is bleach obsessed, yet she would bath her baby in the kitchen sink she does her dishes in. Ew. 

rsquared02 Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 3:25am
Quote:
Originally Posted by ApplegumPam 

Gosh, IF the hygiene of the TIP of the pencil bothers you - sharpen it before use.... it ensures any 'nasties' are removed with the twist of a blade

 

Have to say I am sitting here shaking my head with all this fuss......   do you know that Americans eat so many foods containing things that are banned in so many other countries.....  like in your MILK  for instance

 

As they say .... Ignorance is BLISS

 

Word.  It's scary the things people think are OK to put in their bodies.  Seriously.   

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 3:55am
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsquared02 View Post

It's scary the things people think are OK to put in their bodies.  Seriously.   



Two simple words: "Disco Dust."

Pyro Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 4:13am

I think the OP was just a little overwhelmed in the way he / she presented the topic. It doesn't make it any way silly or worthy of bashing.

 

It's not because people make poor choices in the food they eat that one should just go along and add crap to it. More so when there are alternatives. It's not because there's a bigger evil out there that lesser evils are okay. I've never even heard of people writing on cakes before now.

 

But from some of the replies I see here, some people would have no shame in using rusty tools to make cakes either. Rust is just oxidation of iron metal, we all eat iron in our food, we need iron in our body, it's not toxic.  Yum, rust cake.

cakefat Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 4:46am
Quote:
Originally Posted by ApplegumPam 


You misunderstand - this was not having a go at people who are eating JUNK food

 

It was more to alert people to LOOK at what IS in their food - the supposedly 'natural' foods that they consume daily, THINKING that they are unadulterated.....  LIKE milk !!    or flour !

 

 

yes I did- sorry about that!

rowantree Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 5:34am
Quote:
Originally Posted by kikiandkyle 

There is an authority that certifies pencils as being completely non-toxic, from the lead to the wood to the paint on the outside, so you can look for PMA certified if you want to be sure.


Here's the info on that:

 

I'm not going to worry about using a graphite pencil on my cakes.  The general use is on fondant to sketch out a design that will be painted or piped over, and you know how many people don't eat the fondant anyway!

jason_kraft Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 5:43am

A

Original message sent by Pyro

But from some of the replies I see here, some people would have no shame in using rusty tools to make cakes either. Rust is just oxidation of iron metal, we all eat iron in our food, we need iron in our body, it's not toxic.  Yum, rust cake.

Diamonds are pure carbon. Since humans are made up of carbon and we require carbon to live, it logically follows that diamonds should be perfectly safe to eat.

Seriously though, ingesting small amounts of rust (assuming it is iron oxide) won't hurt you, it takes much more than that to cause iron poisoning.

Pyro Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 6:30am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


Diamonds are pure carbon. Since humans are made up of carbon and we require carbon to live, it logically follows that diamonds should be perfectly safe to eat.

Seriously though, ingesting small amounts of rust (assuming it is iron oxide) won't hurt you, it takes much more than that to cause iron poisoning.

 

I wish I was rich enough to indulge in a diamond dinner, my plumber would freak out. And yes any health authority will tell you there is absolutely no problem with drinking rusty water from old pipes. You still wouldn't catch me dead using anything with rust on it in the kitchen. I'll go out of my way to replace something as simple as a plastic ruler into a stainless steel one, but I'm probably a minority.

 

I just think that the " there's worst out there, so what's the problem " is not a right way of thinking. To me it's like tossing a piece of garbage in the street because " 1 piece of garbage won't pollute the planet ". That's really my point, but I'm not on CC to preach to anyone. I just think the OP had a valid point. You could replace the word " pencil " with many more objects in different threads.

 

It's okay if some people don't agree with the OP, but it doesn't make it a frivolous post.

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