Germ infestation in restaurant play places far from shocking
February 6, 2006 —
A recent WNEM-TV5 investigation yielded startling evidence about the indoor play places of several local fast food restaurants including McDonald's, Burger King and Chuck-E-Cheese. With the help of several SVSU biology students armed with sophisticated, state-of-the-art cotton swabs, WNEM infiltrated the perimeters of several high security indoor jungle gyms to test for icky germs. Their findings: There were indeed icky germs present on much of the equipment they tested. My scientific analysis:
After having spent time in several of these establishments over the years during various birthday bashes, even I can tell you that there are germs in those things - and I got a C in Biology and skipped class the day we covered the chapter on "Bacteria, Fungi and Large Yellow Slides."
While I'm sure the investigation was conducted for all the right reasons, I still couldn't help but laugh at the "shocking" results.
Now, I'm certainly not knocking the SVSU students involved. I'm sure the experiment was both interesting and educational. I also do not doubt the accuracy of their findings in any way. I too saw the footage of the Petri dishes with the menacing, water-spot-looking, hard to see bacteria blotches.
But what I find so entertaining about this is that looking for germs in a play place is roughly equivalent to looking for a needle in a pincushion (and yes, I too was surprised that pincushion was one word).
If you've ever taken five seconds out of your day to look into those play places, you'll quickly discover that children are germ-producing snot magnets. Kids run around in those things hacking and peeing all over each other. People are known to throw fits over disease-spreading chickens being cooped up together; perhaps someone should question the practice of packing 300 four year olds into a plastic tube.
The irony, though, is that the parents who will start sending angry letters to Jasper Jowls because of his dirty play place are the same ones who take their sick kids to the play places in the first place. How about, instead of packing your sick kids into the mini van and heading off to see Charles Edward Cheese, you take the kids to Rite-Aid and get some children's Nyquil. It will put them to sleep in a heartbeat and most likely cost you far fewer tokens than 18 games of skee ball.
And what's the deal with these angry parents, anyways? How about they check the nutritional facts for a Big Mac then tell me their play place is the unhealthiest thing at McDonald's.
The obvious solution to this problem would be to create a germ-free environment with decompression chambers and plastic suits like the ones worn on E.T. Or better yet, the children could be enclosed in large bubbles and dumped into an empty ball pit, where they could frolic about free from the fear of influenza and ear infections (and just think how easily they would roll down the slides).
If that suggestion proves costly, we could simply educate children on the dangers of germs. Mr. Yuck stickers could be placed on every plastic ball and the saying "don't ever take candy from strangers" could be phased out in favor of "don't ever breathe or you'll get sick."
What's even more entertaining is watching all of these "top executives" and "spokespeople" clamber to find a politically correct response to the investigation. When reporters asked Ronald McDonald how he felt about the traces of fecal matter detected, he simply referred them to Grimace, who declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the executive vice president for Chuck-E-Cheese says he's not pleased with the findings and that he will contact the restaurant manager "to find out what went wrong."
What went wrong?
How about science?
Cleaners kill 99 percent of the trillions of microscopic germs found in play places, leaving only billions more behind.
And speaking of those cleaners, I'd like to see them investigated so closely. Some of those industrial cleaners could peel the paint off a Buick Century. Would you rather have a sick kid or one that looks like that guy from the movie Powder?
I highly doubt that any of the restaurants mentioned above were negligent, only victims of science. The results for one restaurant showed that mild forms of bacteria were found on the inside corners of some of the tubes. My guess is that there is a lot of gross stuff on the inside corners of a lot of things - myself included.
Something that should also be considered is the liklihood of a conspiracy. The Hamburglar has a great deal to gain from this investigation. Fewer kids at McDonald's means more hamburgers for him.
In the end, I'm not going to fault the people at WNEM for their report - just make fun of them. But my favorite part of the whole thing came at the end, when the final results indicated that washing your hands is the best way to keep from getting sick. Before too long, the next great finding in an investigation will be that The Valley Vanguard occasionally has spelling errors. C'mon, people. Tel us sumthing we don't no.