McDonalds Play Area
One Arizona mom has been banned from McDonalds for swabbing their play areas, but proposed legislative changes may not help. Image: Flickr / johnsadowskiii / CC-BY

Erin Carr-Jordan is a mother, college professor and now persona non grata at seven Arizona McDonald’s. Carr-Jordan has founded Kids Play Safe, a nonprofit dedicated cleaning up play areas. McDonald’s considers Carr-Jordan disruptive, and some doctors question her mission to sanitize play areas.

Erin Carr-Jordan banned from McDonald’s

Erin Carr-Jordan received a letter from a lawyer at 7 a.m. on Oct. 26. The letter prohibits Carr-Jordan from coming within 50 feet of seven McDonald’s restaurants. If Carr-Jordan does go near these restaurants, there will be criminal trespassing charges filed. The owner of the McDonald’s claim that Carr-Jordan’s actions at their locations are disruptive.

What Carr-Jordan is doing

Carr-Jordan has made it her mission to swab and test indoor play areas for bacteria and viruses. Carr-Jordan found everything from antibiotic-resistant MRSA to staph, graffiti and rotting food. Carr-Jordan believes that indoor play areas should be regulated, inspected and controlled the same way kitchens as bathrooms are at food establishments.

Why Carr-Jordan’s crusade could harm

Though many parents have lined up behind Carr-Jordan in the call for play areas and mazes to be cleaned and sanitized more often, the crusade could actually be hurting children in the long run. The Hygiene Hypothesis claims that a lack of exposure to infections in childhood could lead to autoimmune diseases, allergies and a wide range of other health problems later in life. Children’s play areas have a wide range of bacteria, but compared to many other everyday surfaces, they are not as dirty as some reports make them out to be.

Legislating common sense

The types of changes proposed by Carr-Jordan and her nonprofit may end up having a reverse effect from their intention. Carr-Jordan claims that indoor play areas are simply unsafe for children and need to be regulated in such a way as to require their cleaning and sanitation. If legislation such as this is passed, however, it could create an extra layer of regulatory enforcement and costs to businesses, both small and large. Generally, a through had washing is enough to kill the majority of bacteria picked up in everyday life. Hand-washing is more effective, less expensive, and only about 20 percent of individuals wash their hands thoroughly or often enough, according to researchers.

Sources

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/us/a-mothers-war-on-germs-at-fast-food-playgrounds.html?_r=2&hp
AZ Central: http://www.azcentral.com/community/chandler/articles/2011/10/26/20111026mcdonalds-bans-asu-instructor-chandler-mom1027.html
Chicago Tribune: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-26/news/ct-met-mcdonalds-20111026_1_erin-carr-jordan-playgrounds-health-inspection
ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/10/bacteria-fighting-mom-banned-from-mcdonalds/
PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18608118

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