Anti-Germ Crusader Banned By McDonalds

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A few months ago GeekMom told you about Dr. Erin Carr Jordan, a parent and college instructor who took her children to McDonalds in Tempe, Arizona only to find the indoor playland encrusted with grime, old food, even discarded bandages. She filmed the conditions and posted the video online. Conversations with the manager didn’t lead to a clean-up, so a few days later she collected samples for laboratory tests. Results showed the playland harbored strains of staph, coliform, listeria, and other nasties with the potential to cause disease.

While on vacation the next month, Jordan took the opportunity to swab and test playland areas in six states. She found the lab results just as upsetting. She formed a non-profit called Kids Play Safe a to “raise awareness, conduct microbiological testing, and reach out to the media in hopes of influencing public policy and instituting change.” Her unrelenting efforts have garnered plenty of publicity. They’ve also antagonized the fast food industry. Now they’re fighting back.

According to the Arizona Republic, early one morning this week Jordan received a hand-delivered legal notice banning her from eight of her local McDonald’s establishments and threatening criminal trespassing charges if she tries to enter. Jordan told the Arizona Republic she believes the ban stems from a recent incident. She’d found antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA in a McDonald’s playland. She informed the manager, approached customers with children warning them to wash their hands before eating, and after seeing a child lick the equipment she insisted (to no avail) the area be closed.  A McDonald’s corporate spokesperson claims that Jordan’s activities have become disruptive for employees and customers.

What are your thoughts? Is this mom taking her crusade too far or are you cheering her on? What solutions do you advocate?


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9 thoughts on “Anti-Germ Crusader Banned By McDonalds

  1. Oh GROSS!!! I tend to err on the side of people being too cautious about germs in general. All this anti-bacterial wipes, etc. is plain ridiculous IMHO. But I’m with her on the fast food playgrounds. So nasty!! I’d rather take our lunch out to a park, let my daugher roll around in good dirt than the nastiness I find in most fast food playgrounds. I figure dirt won’t kill you but FILTH just might.

  2. It seems like the play-place proprietors are just reducing their legal liability–if no one KNOWS about the MSRA at their play place, then they’re not going to be indited if there’s an outbreak. It’s like a crime with no witnesses goes unpunished.

    As a mom, I don’t think she’s going too far. I certainly don’t want my daughter crawling on old band-aids or diving in ball pits infested with MSRA. Considering how many kids play in those play structures, the restaurants responsible for them should practice good hygiene and keep them reasonably clean. I really don’t think it’s unreasonable.

  3. Staph is nothing to be messing around with. So glad I don’t let my kids play in those things. I wonder what kind of results she’d get swabbing a ChuckECheese, those are even more gross, I won’t even take my kids there for other kid’s birthday parties.

  4. We were at a McD’s in Rhode Island and they didn’t even close the play area after a child vomited in it. Someone just swabbed the visible evidence away.

  5. Those ball pits always grossed me out.

    I actually test the pool water at my gym before swimming. Management doesn’t like it, but that’s tough. They’ve had water quality problems in the past. Since they replaced the chemical controller I haven’t had any bad tests, but now it’s a habit. Other swimmers know, if I’m in the pool, the water’s good. 😉

    1. Great example of how I was saying this is a broader issue. Remember press coverage of the pathogens found in many gyms? Disgusting, but just another example of how the public should take hygiene and cleanliness seriously. (In other words, you shouldn’t trust the business alone to take care of it– you can protect yourself, too.)

      Speaking of which, the employee at my gym who checks the temperature and chemicals at the pool is nice enough that I should at least ask about the test readings.

  6. I don’t think it’s unreasonable, and this is a broader issue. It’s not just a mom and kids thing; I think this is part of educating the general public about pathogens. It’s information that the CDC and state health boards are pushing anyways.

    McDonald’s company model is fairly well respected; even and especially their franchise one. Were these play places at franchises, or company restaurants? Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter; corporate should be able to communicate to both: “Sanitation needs to improve, and we’re serious.” I’m fully confident of their ability to do so, too.

    1. It’s actually much worse than that. I used to work for McD’s and was told they have a reputation for cleanliness. We were sent regularly to clean out the bathrooms and wipe down the tables in the playland. The restaurant itself appeared to be spotless.

      I think this is a clearcut case of McD’s attempting to protect its rep, rather than acting on the woman’s allegations and sending one of the smaller employees into the playplace every so often to clean that monster out. Some kids even lose control of their bladders in those things. So they do need cleaning out every so often.

      I don’t take my kids to fast food that often and, lately, I just hit the drive-through. It’s safer for my kids to eat in the car, or even at home.

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