Mom battles germs waiting for kids at fast-food playgrounds
“It’s bad,” Erin M. Carr-Jordan said, swab in hand, as she collected samples from a surface that she would later deliver to a lab for microbial testing. Nearby, a restaurant worker diligently sanitized tabletops and banisters outside the play area, but he did not appear to use his rag and spray bottle inside the children’s maze.
Dr. Carr-Jordan, a child development professor and a mother of four from Chandler, Ariz., has visited dozens of restaurant playgrounds in 11 states in recent months to test them for cleanliness. What the inspections and lab analyses have revealed is the widespread presence of an array of pathogens, from coliform bacteria to staphylococcus, at levels that experts said indicated that restaurants might not be disinfecting their playlands as diligently as they should…
“I’m not shocked or blown out of the water, because this is my business,” said Philip M. Tierno Jr…who surveyed some of Dr. Carr-Jordan’s results. At the same time, Dr. Tierno said, “There are very high counts, and that means these places are not cleaned properly or not cleaned at all.”
Dr. Carr-Jordan’s campaign, which has attracted the attention of the fast-food industry, began in April when she stopped at a McDonald’s near her Phoenix-area home because one of her sons needed to go to the bathroom. On the way out, her children asked if they could play in the children’s park, which McDonald’s calls a PlayPlace. She assented and accompanied her children inside.
“My kids were going, ‘Yuck!’ ” she recalled of the scene, which she videotaped with her cellphone and posted on YouTube. “It was gross and sticky. There were curse words and gang graffiti. The windows were black. There was matted hair and an abandoned Band-Aid.”
Despite complaints to the manager and several follow-up visits, the play area was not cleaned, she said. So Dr. Carr-Jordan, who has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology but is no expert in microbiology, had samples tested. When the results were analyzed by Legend Technical Services Inc., an environmental testing company, they indicated the presence of potentially harmful bacteria, and she began inspecting and testing the playgrounds at other fast-food restaurants in her neighborhood. Lab results…showed that most were far from clean, she said.
RTFA and learn how Dr. Carr-Jordan has expanded her fast-food vigilante territory, what little response she receives from local authorities – and even less from the Feds. Everyone passes the buck up the political food chain.
She formed a non-profit, Kids Play Safe. And if you care, be prepared to take on the fight on your own – adding other parents, other concerned civilians. You ain’t finding politicians standing in line to help.