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Entries in Chuck E. Cheese's (1)

Monday
Aug152011

Filth, Fecal Matter Found in Some Fast Food Restaurant Play Areas

Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision(NEW YORK) -- The play area at your local fast food restaurant may be harboring germs and bacteria that could make your children sick.

ABC News found out about this issue from a crusading mother who is trying to get standards in place for how -- and how often -- restaurant play areas should be cleaned.

At present, the government regulates restaurants and child care facilities, but not child play areas in restaurants.

Clumps of hair, rotting food and gang graffiti were just some of the things that mother Erin Carr-Jordan says she found when she followed her toddler into a fast-food restaurant play tube.

"It was like getting hit with a brick, it was so disgusting," she told ABC’s Good Morning America. "There was filth everywhere, there was black on the walls and it was sticky and there was grime inside the connecting tubes."

A professional with a specialty in child development and four children of her own, Carr-Jordan couldn't get the filthy scene out of her mind, so she crawled into more play tubes. And when she felt restaurant managers weren't responsive to her complaints, she started taking her video camera with her, and then posting her findings on the internet.

Carr-Jordan knew the play areas looked awful, but she wanted proof they could make children sick. So she spent several thousand dollars of her own money on testing. She collected samples at nine restaurants in seven states, from McDonald's, Burger King, Chuck E. Cheese's and others. She shipped off her swabs to a certified lab.

The lab found fecal matter in eight out of the nine play areas Carr-Jordan tested -- a staggering 90 percent. Children who come into contact with those bacteria could then get sick if they touched their mouth, nose or an open wound. One restaurant play tube had more than 20 million fecal bacteria in a two-inch area.

"Where there are people, there are germs," said New York University microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno.

ABC News asked Tierno, director of microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center, to put Carr-Jordan's lab result into context. He said the play areas could have been worse, but there's definitely room for improvement.

"The areas where children play in those restaurants, they should be periodically sanitized -- I don't know if some of these were sanitized in a more timely fashion to have 20 million count -- but they really should be," he said.

That is precisely Carr-Jordan's point. After all, restaurant bathrooms are required by law to be cleaned regularly, but there are no clear standards for restaurant play areas.

"I don't want them to take these places away, I most certainly do not. I just want them to clean them," she said.

ABC News asked the restaurant chains for their reaction:


Statement to ABC News from Burger King:
BURGER KING® restaurant playgrounds must be cleaned and maintained in accordance with the cleaning standards in the BURGER KING® Operations Manual. These standards include procedures for daily, weekly and monthly cleaning of playground equipment. In accordance with our policy, restaurant playgrounds are also required to be cleaned by a professional cleaning service on a quarterly basis. Burger King Corp. has contacted the franchise restaurant where the sample was taken and the franchisee has confirmed they conducted a deep cleaning of the playground this month. Additionally, the franchisee is reinforcing BURGER KING®'s standards on proper cleaning and maintenance procedures with all of its staff and management team at the restaurant. - Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Chief Brand and Operations Officer for Burger King Corp.

Statement to ABC News from McDonald's:
"We put our customers first, and are taking these concerns very seriously. We've spoken with Dr. Carr-Jordan and assigned a team to review the report findings and our own existing procedures. While we have stringent sanitizing procedures for weekly, daily and even spot cleaning, we're always looking for ways to improve our standards and how they are followed at each restaurant." - Cathy Choffin, Manager of Safety and Security McDonald's USA

Statement to ABC News from Chuck E. Cheese's:
Our goal at Chuck E. Cheese's is to provide families with a wholesome, safe, entertaining experience. Cleanliness is a critical element toward meeting this goal. We have detailed step by step cleaning instruction manuals with video training in each of our entertainment centers. All existing play equipment is cleaned at least daily with Oasis 146 Multi-Quat sanitizer. Touch ups are completed throughout the day as needed. Additionally, we have Purell stations installed for our guests and employees to use. - Lois Perry VP, Advertising Chuck E. Cheese's  

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