Testing Chuck E. Cheese Restaurants For Bacteria Will Probably Give You Nightmares

After one of their friends claimed to have gotten ringworm from a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, mommy blog “momlogic” decided to swab several Chuck E. Cheese locations and have the samples tested for bacteria. The results are pretty gross, and make us thankful to have an immune system.

They found a variety of nasty germs that cause things like UTIs, pneumonia, and infant meningitis — proving once and for all that you should wash your hands before you eat.

Chuck E. Cheese’s spokesperson says that the restaurant cleans and disinfects the tables and games every evening.

“We clean and sanitize our games every night with an antibacterial sanitizing solution called Sterbac Blue. We try to inspect and maintain during the day as well. We have a large amount of kids who come through here, and with them, a large amount of bacteria. We try to keep up with it.”

Yep, kids are pretty gross. Be sure to wash yours thoroughly.

Is Chuck E. Cheese’s Really Chuck E. Diseases? [momlogic]

Comments

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  1. I_Elohel says:

    Who’s surprised?

    Not this guy.

  2. xwildebeestx says:

    Is there also poop in the ball pit? Captain Obvious demands answers!

    • tcv says:

      @xwildebeestx: Someone recently told me that many CECs no longer have ball pits because of all the odd detritus that winds up at the bottom.

      This all might be just one more of those things that I just don’t want to know. I sincerely doubt things were better in the past. Did the glimmering arcades of 1950s Brooklyn have germs likes these? Of course they did. So, either these germs are new and we’re in for a world of hurt or are immune systems are better than we think. While it’s good to know, it’s hardly a reason to panic and may or may not be a testament to Chuck’s cleaning prowess.

      And then there’s that whole thing about a bit rat cleaning things anyway …. ;-)

      • Outrun1986 says:

        @tcv: That is true, every CEC I have been into in my area has not had a ball pit for years. They also don’t have those massive crawl through structures that they advertise on TV. Its mainly video games, ticket redemption games and food, with a small crawling area for the toddlers.

        Sounds like its not any more germy than the average pizza place, mall food court or arcade which are also places where children frequent. How about swabbing your standard mall food court or pizza place to compare the results with instead of slamming on a place that offers relatively cheap children’s entertainment. Their games are still 25 cents each at least in my area which is a rarity these days.

      • i_love_life says:

        @tcv: My friends little sister got herpes for putting one of those balls from the ball pits in her mouth (she was 3). Very sad.

    • karmaghost says:

      @xwildebeestx: Man I loved those ball pits when I was a kid, even when you came across one that wasn’t in a Chucky Cheese. But seriously, now that I think about it, how can you possibly clean one of those things? When you think about it, the total surface area in those must be pretty f’in high and the only real way to make sure they’re clean is to take each ball out and clean it separately. I bet those balls are dirtier than the bathroom floors.

      • lannister80 says:

        @karmaghost: I’ve actually seen this done. There used to be a place somewhere near Chicago in the ’90s called “Leaps and Bounds”. The whole place was filled with crawling tunnels and ball pits. They had their “ball washer” behind a giant plexiglass wall, the setup was like 15 feet tall:

        They would dump HUGE numbers of balls into this hopper, which would then suck the balls, one at a time, through clear plastic tubes into a washing chamber, then a drying chamber, then finally to a bin for clean balls. All automatic, kind of like “El Machino” at Chevy’s Mexican restaurants!

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        @karmaghost:

        It would need to be a sealed chamber, with nozzles to spray disinfectant and/or soapy water. Simultaneously, you would either have fans in the bottom, or some sort of vibrating plate in the bottom, which would agitate the balls so that they’re flying all over the chamber. Regardless of whether you use fans to do this, you need fans to blow air through the chamber to dry them. Obviously, there would be drains in the floor, as well.

        Yes, you could keep a ball pit clean, if it were designed to be kept clean. It would probably not be cost effective.

  3. crazymatt1 says:

    Most important take-home fact:

    “As a mom, these bacteria sound alarming and scary. But as a doctor, I haven’t ever seen a serious or life-threatening infection that can be clearly traced back to a kid-friendly restaurant.”

    Did I visit Chuck E. Cheese as a kid? Yes (technically it was Showbiz Pizza, but same difference). Did I try to eat the balls in the ball pit? Probably. Any meningitis? Nope.

    For frick’s sake, let your precious snowflake eat some dirt and drink from the hose! It’s the only way that they will grow up healthy.

    • HFC says:

      @crazymatt1: Mmmm, hose water. I kind of miss that metallic taste of warm hose water in the summer.

    • randomangela47 says:

      @crazymatt1: But if they’re eating dirt and drinking from the hose, that means they’re outside… Which means I don’t have to get a headache from the cacophony that is the inside of a Chuck E Cheese! (And they’re probably getting more exercise in a healthier environment, too!)

    • dialing_wand says:

      @crazymatt1: Amen.

      Get dirty, live a little. Everyone is better for it.

    • silverundertone says:

      @crazymatt1: “For frick’s sake, let your precious snowflake eat some dirt and drink from the hose! It’s the only way that they will grow up healthy.”

      i agree completely. when i was growing up, i drank from the hose, ate candy after i had dropped it on the floor (or on dirt) and so on.

      people need to realize that no matter what they do, germs are going to be everywhere. and they *should* be. without them life as we know it wouldnt be possible.

      and by going crazy with all those “antibacterial” cleaning products out there, we are, in the long run, only making things worse for ourselves..breeding supergerms and senseless worry.

      • CFinWV says:

        @silverundertone: A friend of mine who is a biochemist by trade who spends all day finding counter agents to biochemical warfare agrees with you. He says the resistant strands are some of the scariest stuff he comes across. He told me point blank not to use antibacterial stuff unless I had a specific need for it, i.e. cleaning a wound, etc.

    • GreatWhiteNorth says:

      @crazymatt1: I fully support the idea of letting kids be kids…

      For the immune system to function properly it must be exposed to all the nasty stuff in the environment. We do our kids harm when we protect them from exposure to the normal stuff…

      Keeping this in mind, it is intelligent to observe our kids watching for unusual hazards (I dare you to eat that chunk of roadkill!) and to teach them appropriate sanitation and cleanliness habits.

      • crashedpc says:

        @GreatWhiteNorth: I remember as kids one of my friends informed me on the nutritious value of dirt. So we promptly ate some. Ah, kids.

        Isn’t roadkill a good source of protein?

    • HRHKingFridayXX says:

      @crazymatt1: Exactly. I would be more concerned about whatever that Sterbac Blue crap is thats “sanitizing” the tables. I’ll take a little dirt over chemicals any day.

      • crazymatt1 says:

        @HRHKingFridayXX: Sterbac Blue is a fairly common sanitizer (quaternary ammonium) used for manual warewashing as well as surface sanitizing. Health departments tend to like quaternary solutions much better than chlorine or iodine based ones.

        • HRHKingFridayXX says:

          @crazymatt1: Yummm ammonium. Sure, I understand that there’s a health code, etc etc. But at some point don’t you just say use some soap and call it a day?

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          @crazymatt1: IS THAT WHAT QUAT MEANS! AHA!
          The animal shelter I volunteer at uses it (its yellow and smells AWFUL) but it gets shit clean.

    • Shaftoe says:

      @crazymatt1: So absolutely right. George Carlin had a great routine about growing up swimming in east river effectivly making him and his friends immune to everything.

    • slymaple01 says:

      ditto that , It is actually good for the immnune system. It makes your body stronger and better to cope when you do those trips overseas. Remember you cannot continue to live in a sterile environment.

    • varro says:

      @crazymatt1: I grew up without helicopter parents, which meant:

      We played dodgeball in gym class.
      We played tackle football (even though the teachers told us not to), and played on monkey bars over cement.
      No one knew what an alcohol wipe was.
      We played tons of games, often involving running around late into the night.

      Guess what? When you protect kids from everything, they don’t develop immune systems, and they get fat because you don’t let them run around for fear of them getting a boo-boo.

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        This is also why kids should, whenever possible, have dogs. (Also, a really good dog is better than a babysitter)

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @varro:

        Ah, the good old days….

        We played in the dirt too. My little brother and I had a whole road system built out behind an old barn on our property. Which meant that it was probably not only dirt, but poo as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      I could not agree more with you. Im 36 years old, and grew up on a cattle ranch. I also went to Chuck E Cheese often. Between those two things, Im still alive. I have 6 kids, that I let be kids.Get dirty, have fun, shower at night. As my Grandma used to say ” buck up”.

    • Robert Synnott says:

      @crazymatt1: Your kid is not likely to get bacterial meningitis, an extremely nasty and often fatal disease, from playing outside. They are, however, somewhat more likely to get it from a warm indoors place where it is present and incubated.

    • The-Joker says:

      @crazymatt1: Yea i totally agree with him, just not on eating the dirt part, unless you want real earthworms in your stomach…

  4. Dilbitz says:

    Eww. My kids have BEGGED to go there, and they never have set foot in our local CEC. It’s dirty and on the bad side of town. Also, some kid died in the ballpit when it was Showbiz, and that did it for me. What is the appeal of that place anyways? Horrible food, lousy service, and some run down animatronics? Now if the had the Rock-a-Fire Explosion there, I’d go, but the mouse is just stupid.

  5. mbz32190 says:

    I’m not surprised…I would expect some bacteria to be at any restaurant…nothing can be 100% germ free except maybe if they bleach EVERYTHING after each customer. And like the article says, we have an immune system to protect ourselves from this stuff. No need for fancy chemicals.

  6. friendlynerd says:

    Yet another step in the direction of hyper-sensitive, allergic-to-everything kids.

    People only have an immune system that works when they’ve been exposed to some stuff in their lifetimes.

    • Ms. Pants says:

      @friendlynerd: Please refrain from saying the word peanut around children as all kids are now allergic to peanuts.

      We’re raising a bunch of pansy-ass kids, I’m tellin’ ya.

      • jodark says:

        @Ms. Pants: I purposely throw peanuts into the ball-pit just to watch the parent reactions.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        @Ms. Pants: My child is allergic to pansies and broke out in hives after the word appeared on my screen. I hope you have a good lawyer.

      • CountryJustice says:

        @Ms. Pants: Whatevs. Let ‘em be allergic. More Extra Crunchy for me.

      • StanislausBabalistic says:

        @Ms. Pants: It’s slightly ridiculous – I’m actually allergic to peanuts and sick of all this bullshit. I can’t stand the smell, but you know what, if people want to eat peanuts in the same room as me, whatever. I just won’t make out with them later (This is also how I feel about smoking, though I WILL make out with them).

        Funny aside: I used to just hate peanuts, but then I accidentally ate some and ended up in the hospital. My friends still refuse to believe that I’m allergic.

      • BluePlastic says:

        @Ms. Pants: Peanut allergy is a genuine malady. Maybe some parents think their kids are allergic when they aren’t, but not everybody who says they’re allergic to peanuts is making it up. I have a cousin who is quite severely allergic and is also mildly allergic to other legumes, like peas.

        Sure, anyone allergic to peanuts is going to have to live in a peanutty world at some point, but I’d think it would be hard for kids to avoid it for themselves until they get a little older.

    • Cafezinha says:

      @friendlynerd: Oh Christ, you wanna get me foaming at the mouth, start talking about these “allergic to life” type kids. If your kid is so goddamned allergic that a molecule is in the air, HOMESCHOOL HIM. My kids’ school banned peanut butter for lunch because there is one child with an allergy (even though he actually eats in the nurse’s office, on the other side of the school from the cafeteria) and when I substituted sunflower nut butter, I discovered that there’s apparently a child allergic to ALL SEEDS. How is that even possible? Seeds are everywhere–this kid should have been dead long ago. Hey, my kids are kind of small for their age and should probably be eating a lot more peanut butter–I demand accomodations for THEM. /sarcasm

      I just want to go up to the parents of these speshul snowflakes and tell ‘em to eff off. What happens when they’re grown and out of public school? You gonna demand that their college or workplace accomodate them, too? You know what happens to snowflakes in the real world?

      They melt.

      • HRHKingFridayXX says:

        @Cafezinha: Ugh, I would DIE if we start making workplace accomadations for those kids. I think what’s really driving this is that doctors give allergy tests to infants, so if they have even a mild reaction to the test they are “allergic” and never given the chance to be exposed to anything.

        I did see a report on the news that they have a new peanut therapy in trials. They’ll gradualy put 1/millionth of a peanut in a powder and gradually move up. I can’t believe that’s rocket science…

        • Cafezinha says:

          @HRHKingFridayXX: I kind of blame media sensationalism for some of this fury. Did you see the story about the 15-yr-old girl who died because her boyfriend had a trace of PB on his lips when they kissed? OH NOEZ DEADLY PEANUTS EVERYONE RUNNNNNNNNNNNNN!

          Hell, I’ve even seen a lot of parents of allergic kids react negatively to nut-free schools because their kid will never get any kind of exposure, thereby never gaining any kind of immunity at all. Bubbles for everyone!

          • AuntieMaim says:

            @Cafezinha: I have some severe food allergies, but my parents trained me to ask about ingredients and avoid foods that may contain the things I’ll react to. I even had a reaction once in HS to kissing my boyfriend after he had eaten some almonds. I felt pretty dumb, because I should have known better. But you know what? If your allergy is that severe, have a damn epi-pen, use it at the first sign of a reaction, then call an ambulance. Tell everyone remotely close to you about your allergy, where you carry the epi-pen, and how to use it. I do. Also, don’t kiss your BF when he’s been eating PBJ. It’s a tragedy if it’s true, but it’s also possible that it happened because her parents over-shielded her from peanutty situations so she never learned basic avoidance tricks, and how to react once she started having a reaction.

            I call BS on the all seeds ban. Sure, maybe some poor kid does have that allergy, but it is EXTREMELY unlikely that air exposure would cause any reaction other than a psychosomatic one. Thus, the responsibility for avoiding allergens is on the kid and his/her parents — see above RE: learning to ask and avoid. I think the schools’ fear of liability is partly to blame in the peanut panic.

      • starbreiz says:

        @Cafezinha: If it helps, as an adult, I have a few ridiculous food allergies (corn, tomatoes, and oranges). And I probably played in the same dirt, trees, and piles of lumber as every other adult in here.

        But I wholeheartedly agree, we overprotect our kids. I would be an entirely different person today if not for the freedom of an unsupervised and huge backyard and being a latchkey kid :)

      • HooFoot says:

        @Cafezinha: Here’s something sad. My little cousin is in elementary school and his mom volunteered to bring in food for their class holiday party. These are the requirements: nothing homemade, no soda, no candy, fruits and vegetables only and those must come from a store bought platter. Now I’m all for teaching kids about nutrition and food safety, but some of my best memories from elementary school were homemade cupcakes at class parties and annual bake sales. How sad that kids today won’t get to experience the same. Nobody ended up going to the hospital in anaphylactic shock or suddenly ballooned in weight from eating a cupcake once or twice a year.

    • Ajh says:

      @friendlynerd: I was a hyper allergic to everything kid.

      I went outside anyway. They’re called tissues. I also had allergy shots and by the age of 10 knew every major antihistamine on the market and which ones worked on me. None of it stopped my sister and I from doing stuff like playing in the mud, drinking out of the hoses, kissing the dog, climbing trees, eating the cherry tomatoes off the plants without washing them…and so on.

      • starbreiz says:

        @Ajh: I think that’s the same philosophy as when a kid cries over nothing and you give him attention, he cries even more. You sucked it up, as most of us did as kids. Kudos :)

  7. Courteous_Gentleman says:

    Wait, sweaty, cheese-covered children cause bacteria? I think we’re going to see an influx of child-bubbles this Christmas!

    Joy!

  8. JohnDeere says:

    ya, well just have your keyboard tested at work, will probably make chuck e cheese look like a hospital.

    • CRNewsom says:

      @JohnDeere: I have worked at both a hospital and a large chemical plant. There is approximately the same sanitation standards at both (read: POOR). Don’t give credit (to hospitals) where it is not due.

      /Rant off

    • My Iron Lung is Rusted says:

      @JohnDeere: Yeah, I wouldn’t put a whole lot of faith in hospital cleanliness, except maybe in sterile areas like the ORs. That’s why you’re supposed to wash your hands before you touch a patient. Remember, all those bugs that people come in with get killed before they jump off…

  9. Daemon_of_Waffle says:

    Bubble baby?

  10. Scoobatz says:

    While I don’t disagree with the results, I don’t think it’s very fair to single out Chuck E. Cheese when most restaurants would likely fail the swab test, too. Where’s the “control” restaurant that was used for this study?

    And, while you’re at it, momlogic, please swab the waiting room of your child’s pediatrician and let me know what you find.

    • queenofdenial says:

      @Scoobatz: and momlogic, please swab your kid’s hands AFTER they wash them and let me know what they find. My kindergartner’s class did this (they had 10 students in that class total) and found all sorts of scary crap, like MRSA. But I refuse to buy antibacterial anything. We use Ivory soap.

    • HiEllie says:

      @Scoobatz:
      I totally agree. Mythbusters did an interesting experiment that had to do with the myth that the bathroom is the dirtiest place in the house, and that the toilet actually sprays e. coli into the air onto your toothbrush. They put toothbrushes all over their bathroom (they had to brush their teeth dozens of times twice a day for a month or so for this experiment), and all over the kitchen area. The kitchen ones were more infected.

      As a side experiment, they proved it true that a toilet seat is cleaner than a human’s mouth.

    • NotATool says:

      @Scoobatz: Exactly — great sensational article, but without a control, rather worthless. The question that should be asked: Is CEC dirtier than a typical restaurant? You are right — it is unfair to single out a restaurant.

      Secondly, why would ringworm prompt someone to test for bacteria? Isn’t ringworm a fungus?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, no shock here. I myself had a very brief stint working at a daycare center. All the hand-washing, anti-bacterial gel-using, gargling and vitamins in the world couldn’t save me from pretty much catching a new cold on a weekly basis. I can only imagine how gross the ball pit at Chuck E Cheese must be – I loved that thing and even now at nearly 30 I want one in my dream house, but I can’t imagine how they could reasonably clean that thing. There’s probably toddler puke from 1984 at the bottom.

    • Daemon_of_Waffle says:
    • ShizaMinelli says:

      @WendaCachifa: I worked at a daycare for about 2 years, and would have stayed longer if not for the fact that my supervisor was a raging bitch. I can’t imagine how you caught colds that often. We opted out of using anti-bacterial soap and went with the regular kind, and pretty much just made sure they all washed hands after “potty time” and meals. And we went through latex gloves like water, we pulled on a new pair every time a nose needed to be wiped or a diaper needed to be changed. I got the flu once while working there (REALLY bad, but it’s always horrible for me when I get it), but that was it.

  12. floraposte says:

    Oh, FFS. This is the sort of article that causes ocular damage from all the eye-rolling it incurs. I admit that I didn’t have patience to make it through to the end of the “bump-up-the-page-views” gallery, but where the hell where the figures about how much of each organism was found? And where were the figures for momlogic’s own kitchen?

    This is scarelore from and for the scientifically naive.

  13. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Helloooooo…. ^ Children ARE sticky.

    I think the reason why Chuck E. Cheese was the subject of the inquiry is because more kids go through a CEC throughout the year than arguably any other restaurant. Since the website is targeted to parents, CEC would be one of the places kids frequent the most versus a much better dining establishment.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @ChildrenAreSticky: Honestly, its not worth the money. Sure the toys are “cutesey” but I’d let my kid in on the economics of the situation.

      “Here see? I’m giving you this $5 bill. You’ll get about 20-50 tickets from this money. You know what that will get you? A 25c toy, that I’d much more gladly buy for you myself out of the supermarket vending machine. OK? Good boy eat your pizza.”

  14. illtron says:

    In my search for more knowledge, I Wikipedia’d ringworm, and found that it was hilariously defaced. Quick, read it before they fix it. [en.wikipedia.org]

  15. He says:

    FYI, ringworm is a fungus, not a bacteria.

    • AuntieMaim says:

      @He: That’s exactly what I was coming on to add! The most eye-rolling for me was that they were swabbing for bacteria to follow up a ringworm claim. Hee.

  16. MadameX says:

    Heck, I had allergies when I was a kid so they drew a big grid on my back and poked me with stuff to see what I was allergic to. Then they proceeded to inject me full of the stuff I was allergic to a couple times a week to build up a resistance to it.

    Back then, parents used to take their kids over to someone’s house if they had chicken pox so that their kid would get it while they were young. Nowadays, that would probably be considered child abuse…

    • Git Em SteveDave loves this guy->★ says:

      @MadameX: I had the same tests. In the end the Dr’s told my parents all the allergy symptoms I had weren’t allergies, but symptoms of colds I was getting from being in a public school. It was funny b/c after awhile, they went away b/c I built up an immunity to most of the bugs there.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @MadameX: My friend got chicken pox at my Aunts Wedding. I have no idea how many people she infected!

      But the next day my mom and I could hang out with her because we were immune (I gave my mom the chicken pox when I was like 5)

    • silverundertone says:

      @MadameX: getting chicken pox was like a pathogenic holiday for me. i had a blast.

    • varro says:

      @MadameX: Same thing for me – mom or dad would take me to the pediatrician for allergy shots when I was younger…and it went from every week to every other week to once a month, to never.

      Dad would always take me to Pittsburgh’s famous Ritter’s Diner after the appointment for brunch…

    • Aladdyn says:

      @MadameX: the only problem with that method is that anyone who has had chicken pox can experience the virus again later in their life as shingles, something that sounds a lot worse than chicken pox.

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @Aladdyn:

        Yes, my mother (see above reply to silverundertone) has periodic attacks of shingles now. I feel incredibly guilty because we gave it to her.

  17. happysquid says:

    Or we could have titled this: Rats n’ Pizza! A Natural Combination!

  18. LostAngeles says:

    OK, clearly everyone here knows that kids are bacterial and viral breeding grounds. I worked at an arcade and we made it a point to keep the place clean and most everyone who started working there would get a cold during the first two weeks. Why?

    All the kids.

  19. SJRNWT says:

    I bathe in Lysol.

    hahaha just kidding, I can’t stand the whole “99.99% sterile” movement…

    • HRHKingFridayXX says:

      @SJRNWT: Yep and that.01% will kill ya! Actually, of all the things to be allergic to, I can’t be around lysol (just get a little red in the eyes, no biggie).

  20. PoliticalScapegoat says:

    “…what d’ya think you have an immune system for? It’s for killing germs! But it needs practice, it needs germs to practice on. So if you kill all the germs around you, and live a completely sterile life, then when germs do come along, you’re not gonna be prepared. And never mind ordinary germs, what are you gonna do when some super virus comes along that turns your vital organs into liquid sh*t?! I’ll tell you what your gonna do … you’re gonna get sick. You’re gonna die and your gonna deserve it because you’re f’ing weak and you got a f’in’ weak immune system!”

    - George Carlin, RIP

    • Cafezinha says:

      @PoliticalScapegoat: Joe bless you, Mr. Carlin. I love that clip, especially when I’m ready to pound my head on the wall at the insane precautions other parents take to sanitize their children’s immune systems out of existence.

      WE WERE TEMPERED IN RAW SEWAGE!

  21. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy->★ says:

    What always makes me laugh is they take a swab. Then then place this swab on a surface which is pretty much fertilizer and food for Bacteria. They then place these surfaces in an environment(optimum heat/humidity/etc..) which makes them breed like crazy with no predators/enemies to hold back their numbers. They then act surprised they found all of these bacteria.

    I am no scientist, but if I placed 1-2 bacteria in a petri dish and incubated it, wouldn’t they grow like Mad and become a colony very quickly? Meanwhile, in the “real world” would the natural defenses in our body kill those 2 bacteria, thus negating any problems?

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy->★: That’s how you test for stuff, and how they’ve been doing it for years. You’d expect the one or two stray bacteria here and there to naturally occur. But you generally don’t find large growths of bacterial colonies unless the stuff was present in a decent amount on the swab. They will usually swab multiple dishes and have a control as well to use a comparison.

      • Git Em SteveDave loves this guy->★ says:

        @bonzombiekitty: I understand that’s how professionals do it for actual studies, but I am not sure what peer reviewed journal momlogic.com is submitting their procedures for. They list nothing except pictures of petri dishes, and what these bacteria “can” cause. Not how long it was incubated for, which I am guessing determines how large the colonies will grow, how they swabbed the surfaces, how they “sealed” the swabs,when they took the swabs(before someone had a chance to wipe down the surface,right before closing), etc…
        Look, I keep a clean house. I also live on a farm. I will bet that if you swabbed a surface, you would find bacteria that are only found in horse,dog,cat feces. Unless I autoclave my pets and myself before we enter the house, these bacteria will be present. But are they in the same quantities you would find in a pile of scat? I doubt it.

      • MrEvil says:

        @bonzombiekitty: I think though that this testing is designed only for identification of any bacteria present, not neccessarily to determine if there’s X amount. Back when I got strep throat real badly, the doctor would do a throat culture, not to see how much but what type of bacteria I was infected with.

    • mewyn dyner says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy->★:

      It is a good indication of both quantity and type. From the incubation you can gather the types of bacteria and their densities, and knowing that and how fast the bacteria reproduce, you can calculate a good estimate of how much was on the swab, and extrapolate from there how much you have on the surface (you do need to keep good records of the surface area swabbed).

      Everything is controlled in the incubation environment; time, temperature, humidity, and the agar. Because of that control you can use just some simple math to figure it out.

      Honestly, in this article, it’s worse than high school level biology. I saw no real data, just conjecture on what the bacteria “could” be and a bunch of “scary” pictures. To me this seems more like fear mongering than real possible dangers.

      • Git Em SteveDave loves this guy->★ says:

        @mewyn dyner: I understand that in “real” situations, this is how things are done. I’ve seen real science done using these tools and what the results are(sometimes smelly). :)
        I was referring to when TV stations, “investigative reporters”, some helicopter mom blog, etc… do these “studies” and just do what this blog did. Show a shot of a dish, don’t explain to the lay person what it means, then throw in some logical fallacies. This was the best

        What we found surprised even Dr. Gerba … and shocked the hell out of us!

        Really? The man with the followign credentials: Professor of Environmental Microbiology, Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona

        B.A. in Microbiology, Arizona State University, 1969
        Ph.D. in Microbiology, University of Miami, Floria, 1973
        was surprised that you found bacteria on surfaces touched by children? Was he really? What was the worse was that two of the photos of the dishes they showed were from the ASM Microbe Library, and branded as such. So they weren’t even shots of their dishes. So yeah, definite fear mongering and a way to up their site viewership.

  22. jklug80 says:

    Sterbac Blue is made out of people! PEOPLE!

  23. Outrun1986 says:

    I can see a problem with the ball pits, but as I mentioned in another post I have not seen a CEC with a ball pit in my area in years. I have been in them recently too. Come to think of it I have not seen a ball pit anywhere in many years, in any establishment, there is probably a good reason for that too!

    The ones here have video games, ticket games, kiddie rides and maybe a small crawling area reserved for toddlers. They do not even have those massive crawling structures that they advertise on TV, those are gone too.

    I think some other places need to be tested as well instead of outright slamming on one place, how about swabbing in the mall food court, the local McDonalds, or your children’s video game console controller. I bet the results would yield the same, similar or yield even more germs.

    I go bowling in this one fun center here (they have those old bowling machines and I think they are cool) and I have never gotten a cold or anything from it, and its constantly filled with children.

  24. chrisjames says:

    Also, there’s melamine in US-made food products and lead in your unleaded gasoline. Pesticides and salmonella in your bio-engineered food. Everything electronic is emitting cancer-causing EM waves. Oil and fresh water levels may be dropping, along with the ozone layer. Cars are deadly; so are bikes. Did you know that terrorists are eagerly awaiting a chance to kill you. Yes you!

    Seriously though, swabbing surfaces and analyzing the results does sound like an interesting hobby. Also, playing the violin.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @chrisjames: Ever watch the BBC show “Is your House Clean?”

      The ladies go into DRASTICALLY disheveled homes and help clean, but meanwhile they take bacteria swabs.

      Granted, every house is going to be covered in fecal matter, just from flushing the toilet, but in some houses they find deadly mold, horrible virii, etc. I think one lady even had the plague living in there.

      • floraposte says:

        @Oranges w/ Cheese: And at least even they report the actual density numbers of the microorganisms and compare them to the numbers within really clean houses, so that it’s clear that houses aren’t expected to be completely free of these.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @chrisjames: Walking is dangerous because you could fall while walking.

  25. bonzombiekitty says:

    When I have kids, I’m gonna take ‘em to places like CEC at least once every couple months. Let them run around for a couple hours. Then don’t not let them wash up for a day or two.

    That’ll get their immune system nice and strong.

  26. MrsLopsided says:

    CC claims to disinfect every night. It would interesting to see the results of swabs done at door opening time.

  27. gamabunta says:

    When I worked there a girl from the kitchen pulled a tampon out of the toilet without a glove.

  28. MooseOfReason says:

    I’m glad I only played on the arcade machines when I was there, and never ate anything.

    It was probably the food and not the kids, anyway.

  29. dougp26364 says:

    I always LOVE these swab and scare tests people do. I wonder if they would drink urine if they knew, under normal circumstance, it didn’t have bacteria present? I bet they’d much rather eat at Chuck ‘N Cheese even though their swabs grew out all sorts of interesting things.

  30. AD8BC says:

    How the heck does she know the ringworm came from Chuck-E-Cheeses? I’ve had Ringworm before and I have absolutely no clue where I got it from.

  31. JulesNoctambule says:

    I spent most of yesterday with my friend’s toddler. I consider that my annual booster shot.

  32. Corporate_guy says:

    So what were the actual bacteria counts? How does that compare to what would be considered safe levels? Where is the control? How bout testing the same surfaces immediately after the normal cleaning is conducted. These results are completely meaningless and the consumerist is participating in mindless fear mongering. And momlogic needs to learn how to combine things onto one page so people don’t have to click 16 links to see the information.

  33. shorty63136 says:

    Kids aren’t the only gross ones – seriously.

    I am CONSTANTLY BAFFLED at the number of adults who do not wash their hands, even after using the restroom and have been given all kinds of excuses (from ADULTS) who basically say it’s not necessary.

    I started working in an office a year ago and I have been sick more times in this year than I was in the 6 years I worked in an un-air-conditioned/un-heated UPS facility.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @shorty63136: Adults can be just as bad if not worse than kids, lets not put the blame on toddlers who don’t even realize what they are doing is germy or wrong.

      Its not like CEC is any worse than shopping in a store, a bathroom, mall food court or Dave and Busters.

  34. jjeefff says:

    As a control, lets swab mom’s kitchen furniture.

  35. Possinator says:

    So basically momlogic found out germs exist. Wait until they discover what dust is made of.

  36. drgstrcowgirl says:

    The species of bacteria they found naturally occur in the human body. Right in your bacteria-filled colon, and all over your microorganism covered skin.

    You’ll *maybe* get a UTI from Klebsiella if you wipe from back to front, ladies. Not from sitting in a booth at Chuck E. Cheese.

    You know what happened the first time around moms started freaking out about the cleanliness of their kids? Polio. And that pretty much sucked for everyone, all around.

    Like it or not, you’ll ingest this bacteria on a daily basis. Food testing laboratories don’t even screen for it (I work for one).

  37. Marshfield says:

    Ok, that’s it for me. I’m gonna stop licking the tables and games no matter HOW GOOD they taste.

  38. FrankenPC says:

    Reminds me of an ex-Navy friend. When the carrier was visiting the Phillipines, he would stop by the ships doctor and get a huge dose of penicillin. Then, he would disembark and have a good time.

    I’m not suggesting Check E Cheese is a young child prostitution port of call for the Navy. That’s gross.

  39. backbroken says:

    Anybody want to place a bet that the same exact test results would have occured everywhere from McDonald’s to any 5 star restaurant?

    Whoop
    de
    doo.

    • varro says:

      @backbroken: The thing about fast-food restaurants is that they tend to score much better in health department inspections, probably because of standard procedures.

      The guy at Taco Bell is going to put things where they should be, and not put the bowl of raw meat on the shelf above the vegetables.

  40. synergy says:

    I’ve seen their version of “cleaning” and “disinfecting” which mostly involved an already-dirty-looking rag which clearly smells like mold (you know, the wet-towel-left-bunched-up smell?). Unless they wash what they’re using to wipe down or using disposable rags/towels, they’re mainly just evening out the germs everywhere.

  41. synergy says:

    Darnit. I forgot my caveat. It depends on the levels of the germs, too. Were they at unsafe levels? We’re surrounded by germs, but only certain load level will actually make you sick. Immuno-compromised people aside, of course.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @synergy: I’d add, what kind of germs, as well. Annoyed to death by the “more germs on kitchen counters than a toilet seat” meme that pervades, which skips the obvious point that fecal bacteria are exponentially worse than other kinds.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I find it much more disturbing that Chuck E Cheese is casino training for little kids. Put your money in the machine. Get a ticket for a prize (at about 1/100th the value). Repeat. Some of the ‘games” are pretty direct kid translations from ones I’ve seen in Vegas.

    It’s also interesting that they don’t have the regular arcade games, but ones that are made specifically for Chucks. Makes me curious if they are somehow tied in with the gaming industry.

    Their pizza is also pretty awful- even without all the germs.

  43. Trai_Dep says:

    Since urine is sterile, wouldn’t the best thing to do is line up all the boys and let them go all Firing Squad?

    • sdancer says:

      @Trai_Dep: That would actually help if you absolutely needed to rinse something, but I guess then someone would complain about the smell. Of course, urine is only sterile as long as there’s no infection somewhere between the kidneys and the… uhm… muzzle.

      But then… OMG, bacteria at a restaurant! We’re all gonna die! Seriously, we’re all probably exposed to at least as horrible stuff while typing our replies to this story. It’s why food is served on trays, plates, or throw-away laminated wrapping paper. Wash your hands, and enjoy the food.

  44. metalmarious says:

    I would expect this to be valid for many public restaruants

  45. hypochondriac says:

    If they think thats bad, I wonder what would grow if you were to swab the seats and poles in the subway :)

    We have an immune system for a reason, and minute level of bacteria do more good then harm. It helps train the immune system.

    I remember an old report that stated kids using anti-bacterial soap had more sick days from school then kids using regular soap. I think the reason was the regular soap allowed the kids immune system to recognize adapt to the bacteria so when they got a larger does they didn’t fall sick

  46. Smorgasbord says:

    I am a retired truck driver, and have eaten in thousands of restaurants. Only one time I have seen tables washed the way ALL tables should be washed. They used a spray bottle, then paper towels to clean the tables.

    All the others use a container of water that sits at room temperature all day, the same wash rag all day, and use the rag to wash the seats too.

    If a farmer comes in from his cattle or pig pin, and hasn’t changed clothes, who knows what he is putting on the seat. The waiter or waitress comes along, washes the table and seat, then puts the wash rag in the same water that has been sitting there all day, and maybe several days.

    Add to this all the times the waiter or waitress has coughed or sneezed into there hand (as we are taught), then handled your food and place settings, you had better have an active immune system!!!

    One time I watched a waitress putting silverware in the paper or plastic covers some restaurants use. She coughed, covering her mouth with her hand (as we are taught), then grabbed more silverware and put them in the cover.

    How many hours has the cook had the same apron on? How long does it take food on an apron to start growing bacteria, or whatever else grows that way? All day long the cook is wiping their hands in the stuff.

    We need to have the agency regulating the restaurant industry set up strict guidelines how all of this stuff is handled. We also need to have a law that says whoever handles food, only handles food. I don’t want the person who brings my food to have just swept the floor with a broom that was just used in the bathroom to clean up a mess by someone else that just had their glove covered hands in the toilet.

  47. Julia789 says:

    The local newspaper here recently tested random surfaces at the elementary schools. They found all of those bacteria and viruses, and MRSA super-bug. Anywhere kids congregate is going to be like this. Am I suddenly going to quit my job and home school my kid out of fear of germs? Hell no. He’s healthy. He’ll be just fine. I teach him to wash him hands and not put his fingers in his mouth or nose. It’s all a parent can do.

    Children with normal, healthy immune systems over age five or so should not have a problem. Infants, very small toddlers, or children with who are ill or have compromised immune systems should stay home.

    So I wouldn’t be too worried about that restaurant. I wont’ be taking my kid there – but that is because the people there are insane and not because of the germs.

  48. MrsLopsided says:

    Dear Consumerists,

    I’ve seen men at movie theatres leave the washroom without washing their hands. They then proceed to share popcorn with their girlfriend. I want to scream out as I see their hand disappears into the bag. But I don’t. Should I tell on them?

    Grossed out in Texas

  49. Aladdyn says:

    As long as people are getting drug resistant flesh eating necropic super duper deadly bacteria infections from being in a HOSPITAL, ill continue to take my chances with the kids at chucky cheese and not worry about it.

  50. unpolloloco says:

    Duhhhhhh…………kids = germs. Live with it.

  51. Anonymous says:

    My buddy grew up on a farm. With my own eyes I saw him drop a pickle behind a bar, walk around, pick it up and eat it. I’m fairly certain had he grown up in one of those sterile soccer mom houses he’d have god knows what. But he didn’t get anything. Shocker. He has an immune system like fort knox. Have some germs and live a little. Oh yeah, eat off of the floor once in a while.

  52. Anonymous says:

    My daughter works at Chuck E Cheese and I can personally tell you that the employees are there for at least an hour every night cleaning with cleaning solution every table, bar, counter, game, ride on toy, etc. There have been nights that she has been over an hour late because they are cleaning the place. If you look at ANY place where children play; school, the park, amusement parks etc., there will be germs. It is unfair to single out Chuck E Cheese because there are many many places where germs are. It is unfair to the company and their employees

  53. Anonymous says:

    I was at a Chuck E Cheese once and some kid pooped on the floor. It was brought the attention of the workers and they did nothing. Other kids trampled into it and they did nothing. When I called the next day, since the workers did nothing, the manager didn’t seem to care. That same trip as I walked by the kitchen there was a half drunk bottle of alcohol. She wasn’t very surprised by that information. I will never go back there.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t ya try to swab a Doctors stethoscope. Its very interesting. I did. Its distrubing, kids are gross, I have 3, all boys and they are all healthy, they eat dirt, drink from places outside. I think articles like this are ridiculous. But just my thoughts.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I work in the industry where we repair AND clean these units in every fastfood place you can think of. I can tell you that some of them are THE MOST DISGUSTING places a human can possibly visit! Not all of them but only the companies that choose to invest in the service. The cheap ones say they take care of it themselves but that never lasts.

    Recommendation: Ask the manager if they use an outside service to clean the playground. If they don’t then keep your kid out of there! Only proper steamcleaning and pressure washers can really clean them. Most do the spray and wipe method which doesn’t do the trick. It’s too inconsistent and not thorough enough. Enough said.

  56. cupcake_ninja says:

    Annnd, I’m filing this under the “duh” section.

  57. ChuckECheese says:

    I got nothin’.

  58. shepd says:

    Ummmm, only every evening? I would think disinfecting the tables after each meal is likely a health code requirement in restaurants like these. Disinfecting the table means spraying it with some food-safe cleanser, which I would have hoped is done by the bus boys after cleaning the table.

    YUCK!

  59. Anonymous says:

    I’m an evolutionary microbiologist. Infections are bad, and I’ve cultured ball pits, playgrounds, and community toys. They do have a lot of bacteria on them, most of which are harmless. Even the dangerous bacteria are basically harmless. The things you need to worry about on those toys are viruses like norovirus which is passed from not washing your hands after using the rest room.

    Also ringworm is not bacterial as this article suggests.

  60. Anonymous says:

    This is scare mongering at its best. Bacteria is everywhere. What was the control source, the test results, etc.? How many samples and how many restaurants? Was the time interval between table cleaning, did someone just leave the tested table?

    How do these results compare to other food eateries?

    What testing equipment and methods were employed?

    Not very scientific.

    The best part are the Google ads for Chuck E. Cheese coupons on the left column of your blog.

  61. drjayphd says:

    Sounds like it might be more prudent to wash your hands before, during and after you eat there… so says Filbert, recently-appointed Minister of Chuck E. Cheese Safety.

  62. FLConsumer says:

    Of course there’s tons of bacteria there — there’s tons of little kids there! Little kids are some of the most disease-infested vectors out there. This is one reason why many hospital intensive care units don’t allow smaller children visitors in there.

  63. josephlevin says:

    My ‘local’ Bridgewater, NJ Chuck E Cheese also had the benefit of a forgotten power drill being left lying around. Of course, my 2 year old son found it and began to play with it. I took it away from him immediately, of course. Thankfully, he was not hurt; he was rather upset I took it away from him (go figure!). Soon thereafter one of the employees gave me a hastily scrawled business card from the current manager (with the old manager’s name scribbled out) with a promise of a free “large pizza, 4 drinks, and 30 tokens” by way of an apology. Frankly I’d rather they 1) picked up after themselves and 2) made sure various game machines did not just eat up tokens and then not work, and 3) kept the place better maintained to begin with. I mean, would it be too much to ask for a modest cover charge (say $1 or $2 per customer) to allow for a little more maintenance?

  64. josephlevin says:

    I forgot to mention that the power drill was NOT, for example, just immediately misplaced on the floor by an employee. It was laying partially beneath one of the booth tables and appeared to have been there for awhile. I know this as I saw my son pop into the empty booth, bend down, and pick up the drill from out of the shadow of the table.
    No other equipment was around nor was any employee working in that area with tools for a rather long time (i.e., while we were there). So it wasn’t like someone put the drill down while working, and just popped off to get something for a second (which is no excuse while kids are around, anyway). It was left carelessly.

  65. Klink says:

    Restaurant? You sure?

  66. Aaron Van Gundy says:

    Tables should be sanitized after every meal. Not just every night.