August 15, 2011

Fecal Matter Found In 8 Out Of 9 Restaurant Play Areas

A report by ABC's "Good Morning America" found that play areas at fast food restaurants may be harboring harmful germs and bacteria.

The report said a mother who is trying to get standards in place for how restaurant play areas should be cleaned helped make the discovery.

Erin Carr-Jordan, the mother who performed the research, said she found clumps of hair, rotting food and gang graffiti, among other things, when she followed her toddler into a play tube at a fast-food restaurant play area.

"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."

Carr-Jordan said she felt restaurant managers were not responsive to her complaints so she felt compelled to start taking video cameras with her to post what she had found on YouTube.

She also spent several thousand dollars of her own money on testing samples at nine restaurants in seven states from restaurants like McDonald's, Burger King, and Chuck E. Cheese's.

The findings. from a lab Carr-Jordan shipped off her samples to, revealed that eight out of the nine play areas tested had fecal matter.  One restaurant's play tube had over 20 million fecal bacteria in a two-inch area.

There are currently no national guidelines for how often play areas should be cleaned, and health departments may inspect restaurants for cleanliness and food safety but not these areas.

Despite the grotesqueness of Carr-Jordan's discovery, experts say that no dangerous bacteria like MRSA, salmonella, listeria, shigella and pathogenic strains of E. coli and Neisseria have been discovered.

Dr. Carlos Lerner, a pediatrician at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, told LA Times that exposure to bacteria helps the immune system develop normally and contact with it is not necessarily a bad thing.

"What's missing from these analyses is viruses, like the flu and the common cold, which kids are particularly good at transmitting," Lerner told LA Times.