Restaurants

Mom banned from McDonald's partnering with Chuck E. Cheese to promote cleaner play areas

Erin Carr-Jordan was banned from McDonald's in 2011 after publishing swab tests that showed life-threatening pathogens in restaurant play areas.

Erin Carr-Jordan was banned from McDonald's in 2011 after publishing swab tests that showed life-threatening pathogens in restaurant play areas.  (Courtesy Mario Fontes)

Parents often worry about the sanitary conditions of playgrounds at fast food restaurants, but one mom in Chandler, Ariz., has been doing something about it for several years. 

Erin Carr-Jordan, who began studying the cleanliness of restaurant play areas in 2011-- and says she believes she was banned from eight McDonald’s locations after sharing her findings-- has partnered with Chuck E. Cheese's and Peter Pan Pizza to establish new sanitation standards among kid-friendly restaurants.

CEC Entertainment Inc., which owns over 600 Chuck E. Cheese's and Peter Pan Pizza locations across the U.S., has agreed to meet standards set forth by Kids Play Safe, a non-profit initiative founded by Carr-Jordan and business partner Annissa Furr, a Kaplan University professor with a Ph.D. in microbiology.

To pass inspection, the Arizona Republic writes that a restaurant must: clean the play area at least once during every eight hour shift; use eco-friendly cleaning products; and maintain the safety of the play equipment.

Restaurants that comply will be awarded with Kids Play Safe certificates, which can help parents make better decisions about where their children play.

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“As a parent, if I were taking my kids to these places, I would want to know they're not crawling around on chemicals and in a place that hasn't been cleaned," Carr-Jordan, a mother of four, told the Arizona Republic.

"We intend to see our certification become the standard that people use when making spending decisions," Carr-Jordan later told Fox News.

The Arizona Republic notes that CEC Entertainment has had a contract with Kids Play Safe for two years, during which time they’ve introduced a character named Carl Clean, who “touts the benefits of being clean.”

Ami Anderson, the senior director of advertising and media for CEC Entertainment, adds that the restaurants started working with Carr-Jordan about a year ago.

Carr-Jordan’s efforts have already been lauded on social media by like-minded parents:

Carr first made headlines in 2011, when she began documenting the harmful pathogens she found in play areas across 13 states, some of which reportedly harbored staph bacteria.

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After sharing her results, one franchisee later sent Carr-Jordan a letter informing her that she was no longer welcome at eight McDonald’s locations, although a spokeswoman from McDonald’s claims it was because Carr-Jordan was being "become disruptive to the employees and customers.”

Carr-Jordan holds a Ph.D in developmental psychology. She previously taught at Arizona State University and served as an associate dean at Kaplan University before stepping down to run Kids Play Safe. Together with Annissa Furr, Carr-Jordan also co-founded KPS Consulting, a for-profit eco-conscientious consultancy that works to vet and test green-cleaning initiatives for businesses.