An Arizona mother of four, Erin M. Carr-Jordan, has started a nonprofit group called Kids Play Safe whose mission is to call for stricter legislative regulations for indoor play areas including McDonald’s PlayPlaces and the tube-slide, hanging-net-bridge play stuctures at Chuck E. Cheese. Carr-Jordan, a developmental psychology professor, has actually visited dozens of indoor playgrounds in 11 different states, taken samples and sent them to labs for microbial testing. Her findings? As the New York Times says:
…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.
One expert interviewed by the New York Times, Philip M. Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, said that he was not “shocked or blown out of the water” by what Carr-Jordan found. While noting that it is his business to study microbes, Tierno said that “There are very high counts, and that means these places are not cleaned properly or not cleaned at all.”
On hearing of Carr-Jordan’s concerns, McDonalds says that it has “stringent sanitizing procedures but had nonetheless assigned a team to review those procedures.”
Carr-Jordan started her Kids Play Safe campaign in April after she went into a Phoenix-area PlayPlace with her kids.
What she saw was alarming.
“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.
I can attest to what Carr-Jordan found. Back in the days when my 14-year-old son Charlie wasn’t 5′ 10″, we used to visit McDonalds PlayPlaces regularly as they offered a chance (especially when it was winter or the height of summer) for him to interact with other children.
Photo by Jan Tik
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