Friday, June 10, 2011

Fast Food Playgrounds - a place you really want your kid to play in?

When scientist - developmental psychologist, Dr Erin Carr-Jordan, college professor, visited a McDonald's playground with her 4 children, she was appalled at the fact that the playground tubes, kids routinely crawl around in, were covered with filth. Some of what she found in the tubes were paper, rotting and dried food, and a lot of dirt - they looked like they had not been washed in a long time. Shocked, she approached the manager about this and raised zero interest in the problem. After talking to another three managers with the same reaction, she crawled up into the tubes herself and made a video. That made the news although the link published on the news website was broken. If I was a more suspicious person, I would wonder if it was broken on purpose (obviously MickyD's is a big advertiser on the networks etc). I managed to put repair the link and watched the video and it was disgusting to the point of making me a bit nauseous.

I get that kids crawl in these things daily with seemingly no repercussions i.e. kids do have strong immune systems and most places they crawl are covered with pathogens, (although no one's really done any studies on whether the pathogens present in the indoor playgrounds are more abundant than in other places) but still, the idea and how the tubes look, is so revolting (some of the dirt in there looks like fecal matter!) that after viewing Dr Carr-Jordan's video, I would not want my kids playing there.

Carr-Jordan found there were no regulations on keeping these playgrounds cleaner and at least one scientist, told the news service that many scientists were well aware of the lack of cleanliness of indoor playgrounds:

"Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona professor with a Ph.D. in microbiology, doesn't know Dr Carr-Jordan but said it was well-known among experts in his field that children's playgrounds are one of the most germ-plagued environments and the pathogens can cause disease. Indoor playgrounds that tend to be warm and moist promote bacterial growth."

Dr Gerba added that if he had a small child, he would not allow him/her to play in those playgrounds.

It should be noted that outside playgrounds are probably less populated with pathogens due to being exposed to sunlight.

If McDonald's doesn't want to put any provisions for regular cleaning of the indoor playgrounds into place (so far they seem to have treated the issue like it was limited to the fast food restaurants Dr Carr-Jordan visited), then the Board of Health should take over and require daily (or even twice daily) cleaning of these!

1 comment:

  1. Comment from Anna Marie B.

    I’ve always suspected the plastic balls the kids love to dive in, but I never gave a thought to the tunnels. Why? Because they would be so easy to clean.

    What’s wrong with management? Someone should stick their heads into the filthiest places and ask them if they want to let their own children crawl through—or maybe give them a kick in the behind, close both ends of the tube. Should get nice and smelly after a while.