February 21, 2017

Ball Pools: Feeling Good And Looking Good, Two Sides Of The Same Coin

When you take the kids out for a meal you want to give them something nutritious and wholesome, something that will fill them up with yummy yummy goodness providing for healthy development, both intellectually and physically. Funny then that all they seem to want is fried processed carbs, mechanically recovered meat and fizzy drinks on top!

So you visit one of the ubiquitous junk food restaurants where they can fill up on calories and starches and then burn them all off again as the fly around the ball pool screaming like banshees and having great larks and lorks a lordy. So there they are, happily fed and playing in a safe environment where you can leave them to duke it out by themselves for five minutes while you get to catch a glimpse of today’s paper.

But put that paper down for a moment and look at what your treasured mites are gadding about in. Dr Erin Carr-Jordan, who also happens to be a developmental psychologist did and she filmed what she saw. Not only that but after having not been able to get a response from the management she made it her pet project to investigate just how filthy the PlayPlaces and restrooms really were. (spoiler alert: VERY!) Erin’s research took her to more than 50 separate ball pools where she took samples which she then sent back to the lab to have analysed.

So, while the restaurants claim that the play equipment, including ball pools, tube slides and all every day it’s not hard to see that they don’t thoroughly disinfect, otherwise there wouldn’t be meningitis, gonorrhoea and coli which normally reside in an environment far more brown in the intestines of both humans and pigs. In 1999 a study by Davis, Corbitt et al already found that ball pools should be sanitized regularly due to the huge levels of bacteria that can be found on the surfaces. Things don’t seem to have improved much and if a public swimming pool had the same cocktail of bacteria and toxins it would be closed down. However, in a restaurant it seems to be a different story.

A spokesperson for the best known restaurant chain in the world, Danya Proud, (no, seriously) said that it was “unacceptable but not reflective of our business and our restaurants. As far as I’m concerned it was an isolated matter and we took immediate corrective action to thoroughly sanitize the PlayPlace.” Clearly hadn’t watched the video or read the complaint thoroughly then?  Dr Carr-Jordan went to more than 50 play pits and found that the problem was endemic, not isolated!

Dr Carr-Jordan said: “One of the ultimate goals is to put regulations in place that would require cleaning these places once a week or month or whatever comes back as necessary. There is more potential for hand-to-mouth transmission… You often see kids go down the slide and immediately grab some food.”

Chicago’s department of public health explained that while they cannot cite a restaurant for having a filthy, unsanitary, graffiti riddled play area per se, they can issue a citation for rodent or insect infestations in these areas.

By: Dan Cash – feature writer in the UK.

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