Anyone who thinks playgrounds are clean either doesn’t remember being a kid or is seriously deluding themselves. But one Arizona mom is so fed up with the crap-tastic conditions at the playgrounds found at fast food restaurants that she’s turned her summer vacation into a research project.
The mom, who is also a developmental psychologist, first came face to face with the pathogen farm that was her local McDonald’s a few months ago when, after stopping for an emergency potty break, her kid asked to play on the big plastic slide.
Horrified by the unsanitary conditions at the McDonald’s, she says she made several fruitless attempts to contact management. It wasn’t until she posted a video (see below) detailing the horrors — complete with lab results showing all sorts of bad stuff — that McDonald’s HQ responded.
“It was unacceptable, completely unacceptable,” a Golden Arches rep tells the L.A. Times. “But it is not reflective of our business and our restaurants. As far as I’m concerned, it was an isolated matter. And we took immediate corrective action to thoroughly sanitize the PlayPlace.”
But the mom, certain that this is not an isolated incident, has made it her goal to bring this to the attention of the public, fast food execs, and policy makers. Since the initial incident, she’s already visited and documented conditions more than 50 fast food playgrounds.
She is even swabbing surfaces at each location and sending them off to a microbiology professor who is working with her to analyze the samples.
“One of the ultimate goals is to put regulations in place that would require cleaning these places once a week or month or whatever comes back as necessary,” the prof tells the L.A. Times. She explains that the reason for special concern of contamination at fast food playgrounds is “There is more potential for hand-to-mouth transmission… You often see kids go down the slide and immediately grab some food.”
The mom is using part of her family trip to Chicago to inspect playgrounds at fast food eateries. A rep for the city’s Dept. of Public Health says that, while his organization can not cite a restaurant for having a filthy playground, it can issue a citation for rodent or insect activity in such areas.
Fast-food playlands under scrutiny [L.A. Times]