Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan, banned from entering the McDonald’s franchise near her home, details her horrific discoveries while visiting the insides of a random sampling of the nation’s indoor playgrounds located in McDonald’s, Burger King and other retail fast-food outlets, who use the playgrounds to attract children ages 2 – 12.
She explains why she started Kids Play Safe to conduct a nationwide survey and details the challenges she confronts in trying to gain legislative support to include the playgrounds on the nation’s health inspectors’ watch lists.
In the interview, Carr-Jordan explains why “correcting the problem has the potential to make one of the most significant improvements in overall children’s health in the nation in a very long time because so many children play in there; 50 kids per day per place. There are 15,000 places that have indoor play areas, that’s 270 million children per year.”
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Fast-Food Chain Banishes Woman for Exposing Deadly Health Hazards
By Dave Gahary
What started out as an innocent restroom stop at the local McDonald’s for an Arizona mother-of-four has turned into a national quest to expose the seamy side of those ubiquitous indoor playgrounds scattered across America. And what was uncovered by Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan while crawling through that PlayPlace of the world’s largest hamburger chain would haunt most parents.
Viewed as safe and fun places for kids to play while they have a burger or a pizza, millions of parents in the U.S. get a break from their toddlers as they crawl through brightly colored plastic tunnels, peer through cool-looking see-through plastic bubble windows, and traverse rope netting. The issue here for parents is not the view of the playground from the outside, but what’s lurking inside.
Small in height and stature, Carr-Jordan was able to get a kids-eye-view of the play area, as she wound through the tunnels with her children. She zeroed in on three separate issues that disturbed her: the filth, which included human feces, the disrepair, capable of causing physical injury and the graffiti, which ran the gamut from your standard expletives to violent gang markings and phrases, known as “gang slang.” Before leaving the restaurant, she felt compelled to apprise the manager and expected swift action.
Returning about a week later to the same McDonald’s and noticing similar, if not worsened conditions, Carr-Jordan confronted the manager with her continued concerns and was dismayed to find they had no plans to clean the PlayPlace, McDonald’s name for its indoor playgrounds. So, she vowed to return. Not as a customer, but as an investigator, swabs in hand, to take samples of the filth.
Paying out of her own pocket for two sets of separate lab reports, as dictated by the scientific method, what she found was alarming. The tests revealed the presence of a slew of nasty bacteria, many on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “red flag” list. Species such as E. coli and Staphlococcus aureus, which can cause food poisoning, skin infections, impetigo, boils, cellulitis, bacteremia, heart failure, sepsis, endocarditis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and death.
Scheduled to meet with representatives of the McDonald’s to show them what she discovered, she was surprised to receive a letter from a law firm that prohibited her from entering the eight McDonald’s restaurants that made up the franchise. The letter also threatened her with prosecution for violating Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1502(A)(1), criminal trespass in the third degree. Basically, she was banned from her neighborhood McDonald’s for being eager to pass her findings of deadly health hazards to people in a position to protect the public.
As fate would have it, Carr-Jordan unexpectedly visited another McDonald’s in Colorado, and found identical conditions in that restaurant’s PlayPlace. It was at that point that she was intrigued if she could duplicate the results.
On December 6, AMERICAN FREE PRESS conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Carr-Jordan, who is an adjunct professor of adolescent and child psychology at several universities, including the prestigious Arizona State University, although her employment there may be in jeopardy as she has already crossed the line into public activism.
“It certainly wasn’t my intention to embark on a national study and start a non-profit and to turn this into a second full-time job,” she said, “but it’s that big of a problem.
“I’ve been now to 16 states and I’m finding the same things over and over and over again, which means that it is a national problem, not an individual state or region problem,” she explained.
AFP asked why she embarked on this quest.
“Correcting the problem has the potential to make one of the most significant improvements in overall children’s health in the nation in a very long time,” she explained, “because so many children play in there; 50 kids per day per place. There are 15,000 places that have indoor play areas, that’s 270 million children per year.”
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