My parents caught an awful lot of guff for packing me in a sterilized, vacuum-sealed chamber for trips to the mall and pouring piping hot bleach on the dog every time I wanted to rub her belly — but you’ve got to admit they had a point.
Consider this investigation of popular pedophile hangout Chuck E. Cheese’s. Spurred on by an anecdote about a coworker getting sick at one of the restaurants, the moms at momlogic.com sprung into action. And if you guessed that the resulting investigation can best be characterized by good science and terrific writing, you’re right! Except exactly the opposite!
As parents, we’ve all taken our kids to child-friendly restaurants. After our co-worker claimed to have gotten ringworm from Chuck E. Cheese’s, we all started to wonder … is this happy place really as clean and safe as it seems? We decided to do our own investigation and find out. Get ready for … GROSS!
OMG I DON’T KNOW IF I’M READY YET HOLD ON A MINUTE. (BREATHE) (BREATHE) MMMKAY GO AHEAD…
With the help of world famous germ expert “Dr. Germ,” aka Dr. Charles Gerba, momlogic decided to find out what kind of bacteria our kids are exposed to while playing and eating at everyone’s favorite pizza party place.
OMG DR. GERM? WASN’T HE LIKE WORKING FOR SADDAM HUSSEIN OR SOMETHING?
We tested three California Chuck E. Cheese’s locations: one in Pasadena, one in Sun Valley and one in Burbank. Under Dr. Gerba’s supervision, momlogic swabbed numerous surfaces in the restaurant and arcade including games, play mats, trays, tables and high chairs. Those samples were then sealed and shipped to Dr. Gerba’s lab for analysis. What we found surprised even Dr. Gerba … and shocked the hell out of us!
OMG YOU MUST HAVE BEEN SO SHOCKED TO USE BOTH AN ELLIPSIS AND AN EXCLAMATION POINT TELL ME MORE ARE MY KIDS GOING TO DIE?!!???!??
The rest of the “article” is actually one of those annoying photo essays that Web sites use to artificially inflate their page views. I’ll let RADAR summarize the findings:
Dr. Gerba went to three locations in California and swabbed a variety of surfaces in the restaurant and arcade areas, such as play mats, trays, chairs, tables, and games. Among the discoveries from the analyses were:
— Serratia Rubidaea, a rare cause of respiratory tract infections, wound and blood infections, found on the Yellow Bus Ride in Pasadena.
— Enterobacter sakazakii, which can cause necrotizing enterocolitis, bacteremia, and infant meningitis, thriving on a table and high chair in Sun Valley.
— Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause urinary tract infections, wound and bloodstream infections and pneumonia, clinging to the children’s play mats in Sun Valley and Burbank.
Like every good piece of investigative journalism, the momlogic investigation offers plenty of context with which to assess its findings. For example, they describe the relative rarity of each nasty bit found on each surface and quote several doctors to help readers gauge the probability that any of them would have harmed a child who came in contact with the surface. They also tested the surfaces at several other restaurants and playgrounds and compared them with a wide range of samples taken from typical family homes — including ones that had been scrubbed clean just before. As a final measure, they present statistics on outbreaks of foodborne and surface-dwelling illnesses.
Except instead of doing all that, they just do something else. I don’t know what. Update their list of the most dangerous Nerf toys or something.
They do, admittedly, quote their own in-house pediatrician, who strongly if not very thoroughly debunks the hysteria of the previous 14 PAGES OF SCARY OUTBREAK YOUR KIDS ARE GOING TO DIE IT’S YOUR FAULT STAY AWAY FROM CHUCK E. CHEESE!:
As a mom, these bacteria sound alarming and scary. But as a doctor, I haven’t ever seen a serious or life-threatening infection that can be clearly traced back to a kid-friendly restaurant.
So take this all with a grain of salt. Personally, I almost never take my kids to these places, so that when I do it is a major treat. And I pretty much stay away during the cold and flu season.