Mom Who's Crusading Against Fast Food Playlands Has the Right Idea


dirty fast food playlandIt probably won't come as a surprise that fast food playlands aren't the cleanest places for your kids to play. But to learn many of them are filthy, sticky, disgusting, and likely contaminated with several disease-causing pathogens including gonorrhea and meningitis should be downright shocking, not to mention infuriating.

At least that's been the reaction of Erin Carr-Jordan, a 36-year-old mom and developmental psychologist who's been documenting the appalling conditions in several fast food playlands in California. She's on a one-woman mission to convince restaurants to adopt regulations that would require cleaning these places regularly to make sure they are safe for children.

And if you'd seen everything she has, you'd be on a similar crusade, too:

Carr-Jordan has visited and videotaped more than 50 playlands in recent months. On a typical visit, she may find:

... sticky surfaces, filmy windows, several broken pieces of equipment, food morsels in every compartment, trapped hair, garbage and thick black schmutz in most crevices.

In addition to observing the area, she also sends swabs for microbial testing. Samples from one playland turned up fecal contamination as well as 13 different disease-causing pathogens including four strains of staph, two strains of gram-negative cocci (the most common in the United States are meningitis and gonorrhea), and more. So far, she's singled out Chick-fil-A as one fast food company that regularly cleans their playlands and are happy to provide customers with their cleaning protocols; but McDonald's, Burger King, and Chuck E. Cheese are among those restaurants that either don't have any such protocols or have not responded to her inquiries.

Critics of Carr-Jordan's activist work say she is making much ado over nothing; after all, most parents have no problem allowing their children to play in outdoor playgrounds, which are notorious for being dirty and germy. But the difference here is that many fast food playlands are indoors, and the closed, warm, moist environment accelerates bacteria growth. Add their proximity to food and the fact that many kids are often playing and eating at the same time, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The bottom-line here is that fast food restaurants use playlands to attract customers and their families to their business. If it means keeping kids safer, is it really that crazy to ask them to keep their venues clean? Watch the video before you answer that question.

Do you keep your kids away from fast food playlands?


Image via dno1967b/Flickr

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jpfsmom jpfsmom

We go to the local Chik Fil-A once a month for a playdate (whew! lucked out on picking the cleanest one) I tend not to be a germphobe but in saying that, one of the girls in my playgroup recently came down with mouth and foot disease a few days after one of the playdates there (she had also been to a couple playgrounds too) I admit it made me skeevish.

meatb... meatball77

It's not like anyone cleans the PARK.  Tell your kids not to eat the playground and then have them wash their hands.

These places are a lifesaver for parents of toddlers in the winter.

The girl who had hand foot and mouth could have picked it up ANYWHERE.  My kid got it when she was little, we assume from parents day out or the YMCA.

Lovin... LovingKentucky

The playlands should be cleaned, but parents should still be vigilant in making sure their kids wash their hands, feet, etc. just like any dirty public place.

momve... momversuswild

If people worry about the germs - said people shouldn't let their children on the equipment.  The last thing we need is more governmental controls dictating EVERYTHING.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

My kids have never seen the inside of one of those places, for just the reasons in the article - they're vile!  You'd be better off letting your kids play in the Rest Rooms.  

There are quite a few indoor playgrounds in my area that charge really reasonable admission - around $5 for the whole day, come and go as you please with a stamped hand.  Very clean and worth every damn penny. 

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

We don't even have playlands in our area! Thank goodness! Cuz my kids wouldn't step a shoed foot into one. They r discusting.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

I think there a million places more disgusting that kids get into than a playplace at McDonald's. Like the sandbox at the park. Or in your backyard, if it's not covered. To stray cats, a sandbox looks an awful lot like a giant litterbox.... I'm not a snob about where the kids play. With proper hand washing, feet washing, etc., there's no more harm than going to the park. For some cities, this is their park. There isn't enough funding to make a playground, so parents have to bring their kids here for physical exercise. And especially because of that fact, they should definitely be cleaned. Especially since it's awfully warm in those places and warmth and bacteria mix a little too well.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Luckily our only BK play ground was a pretty small one, basically one tunnel that went round in a small circle and then another that went up to the top of the slide. Easily accessible and the worst thing I ever saw in there was a couple of smooshed fries. I was pretty bummed when that branch closed because now the only places with playgrounds around here are McDonalds and I will not set foot in there.

Paying doesn't mean that you'll get a clean facility. We took my guy to a kids museum just before his first birthday and he picked up some nasty bacteria there that landed him in the hospital. We were almost 100% sure he picked it up there because he was nowhere else that he could have picked it up within the incubation period. A couple of years later we tried again figuring it was probably a fluke but he picked up another bug there, not as serious but he still spent a couple of days on the sofa with a puke bowl on his lap.

nonmember avatar Alli

When i started to read this i thought, i bet chick fil a is the cleanest one. Lol. I mean you can probably tell a lot about the play place by the restaurant. Are the tables and floors clean? The fountain? The condiment bar? The restrooms? The employees? If not, the play place prob isnt either.

yayhe... yayheadstart

Oh my god! You guys are ridiculous! Oh big surprise there are germs where kids play-kids are pretty gross you know. I can't believe there are such neurotic parents out there that won't let their kids play in a playland. How freaking paranoid must you be? NERDS!

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