Disease-causing pathogens at McDonald’s, other fast food playgrounds


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Erin Carr Jordan, a child development specialist and mother of four, has launched a crusade against what she calls “filthy” conditions in the playgrounds at McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast food restaurants across the country.

Tucked in the cracks of crawl spaces, embedded in the surfaces of twisty slides and caked on steps in many playlands are traces of fecal matter and strains of staph and bacteria that can lead to meningitis and gonorrhea, according to lab results commissioned by the Arizona State University developmental psychology professor.


After a self-guided tour of the fun rooms at dozens of McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants -- showing graffiti, smeared grime, hairs and decaying food -- Jordan released a YouTube video calling for mandatory cleanliness regulations at restaurant playgrounds.

McDonald’s could not be reached for comment. In a statement, Burger King said that its cleaning standards include ‘procedures for daily, weekly and monthly cleaning of playground equipment, pads and foams. On a quarterly basis, restaurant playgrounds are also required to be cleaned by a professional cleaning service.’

[Updated 3:10 p.m.: “PlayPlace sanitation and cleanliness is a top priority for McDonald’s,’ the company said in a statement. ‘We put our customers first, and are taking these concerns very seriously.’

Representatives from the chain said that the company has ‘stringent sanitizing procedures that follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for weekly, daily and even spot cleaning,’ adding that ‘while we understand that having a procedure in place is only sufficient if followed, we include evaluation of the PlayPlace in the scope of our business reviews of restaurants.’

Spokeswoman Danya Proud said the company has been in contact with Carr Jordan and has assigned a team to review the issue.]

In the video, Jordan said she was taking her 3-year-old son to the restroom at a Tempe McDonald’s when he begged to go on the restaurant’s slide. She followed and found scrawled swear words and muck inside, according to the video.


After complaints to multiple managers went nowhere, Jordan began swabbing samples, which she sent to a testing lab. The results featured 13 types of disease-causing pathogens and “layers and layers and layers and layers of just disgustingness,” according to the footage.


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Video: Erin Carr Jordan