A Chandler, Ariz., mother of four says her investigation of play areas attached to many fast-food outlets, including a McDonalds and a Burger King in Cortez, found them to be microbial breeding grounds.
They are disgustingly filthy, Erin Carr-Jordan said in a telephone interview. They have eight species of bacillus there are only 15 in existence coliform found in fecal matter, yeasts and staphylococcus.
She contracted with a lab to test the swabs she collected.
Managers who answered the telephone at the Burger King and McDonalds in Cortez said an owner/operator would return the call, but no response was received as of Thursday afternoon.
Calls to Burger King and McDonalds locations in Durango regarding their cleaning protocols also were not immediately returned.
Carr-Jordans crusade, which has taken her to 50 fast-food restaurants in seven states, has been chronicled in a number of media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and The Arizona Republic.
But Dr. Ken Gershman, a medical epidemiologist and chief of communicable diseases at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was less than impressed.
Gershman, who viewed the results of the laboratory tests, which Carr-Jordan paid for herself, said:
Im not concerned that any of what she found would be disease-causing pathogens.
We live in a sea of bacteria. Theyre likely to be found on any surface your skin, your desktop, the floor of your home. Swab any surface and youll find bacteria.
What was not tested for, viruses, are a more serious matter, Gershman said, because they can make people sick.
Viruses dont live long, but in the time theyre alive they can cause colds, coughs or influenza, Gershman said.
Gershman said frequent hand-washing is the best protection against such illnesses.
Annissa Furr, a microbiologist who teaches at community colleges in the Phoenix area, analyzed the swabs taken by Carr-Jordan, an instructor at Arizona State University.
Id be misleading you, if I said the counts (concentrations of bacteria) are astronomically high, Furr said by telephone. The pathogens arent rare or unusual, but there is a possibility they could be disease-causing.
The circumstances a lot of children playing and eating, a lot of hand-to-mouth contact, a lot of kids going barefoot or with scratches increase risk of disease, Furr said.
Carr-Jordan started her investigation at a McDonalds in Tempe, Ariz.
There, she followed her 3-year-old to the playground, where she said she was stunned by the filth.
She complained to the manager, but apparently nothing was done in the next month. So Carr-Jordan took swabs and sent them to a laboratory for analysis.
The test report found her swabs contained opportunistic pathogens that can cause disease, Carr-Jordan said.
She has since taken swabs for microbial organisms at fast-food outlets in California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
In general, Ive found them visually disgusting, Carr-Jordan said. In 90 percent of them, Ive found hair, rotting fruit and Band-Aids.
The same conditions exist at fast-food restaurants wherever she goes, Carr-Jordan said.
Its across the board, Carr-Jordan said. It doesnt matter what the population, socio-economic condition is or whether its a rural or urban setting. The conditions are the same.