twitter facebook stumble upon rss

Is Chuck E. Cheese's Really Chuck E. Diseases?

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

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!

With the help of world-famous germ expert "Dr. Germ," a.k.a. 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.

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!

pasadena chuck e cheese bus bacteria

Found on Yellow Bus Ride in Pasadena:
Serratia rubidaea. A rare cause of respiratory tract infections, and wound and blood infections.

sunvalley high chair chuck e cheese bacteria

Found on child's high chair in Sun Valley: Enterobacter sakazakii. Can cause necrotizing enterocolitis, bacteremia, and infant meningitis. Although most documented cases involve infants, infections have been found in adults as well.

sun valley chuck e cheese play mat bacteria

Found on play mat in Sun Valley: Klebsiella pneumoniae. Causes urinary tract infections, wound and bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.

sun valley chuck e cheese table bacteria

Found on table in Sun Valley: Enterobacter sakazakii. Can cause necrotizing enterocolitis, bacteremia, and infant meningitis. Although most documented cases involve infants, infections have been found in adults as well.

burbank chuck e cheese play mat bacteria

Found on play mat in Burbank: Klebsiella pneumoniae. Causes urinary tract infections, wound and bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.

Yick! We called Chuck E. Cheese's headquarters in Irving, Texas, and spoke to company spokesperson Brenda Holloway about what we found. Here's what she had to say:

"We clean and sanitize our games every night with an antibacterial sanitizing solution called Ster-Bac Blu. We try to inspect and maintain during the day as well. We have a large amount of kids who come through here, and with them, a large amount of bacteria. We try to keep up with it."

After getting the results from Dr. Germ, we were so freaked out that we went straight to momlogic's pediatrician (and mom of two) Dr. Cara Natterson to find out what this means for our kids ... and us. Here's what Dr. Cara had to say:

"It's worth noting that one of the bacteria found on high chairs and tables -- Enterobacter sakazakii -- can cause serious infection in a young infant. This is yet another reminder that if you are tempted to take your newborn baby out of the house, a crowded restaurant is not the place to go.

"Chuck E. Cheese's is really just an example of a kid destination, a place designed to combine dining and family fun. Though the results of this study are specific to Chuck E. Cheese's, the idea is to apply the concept to kid restaurants that double as play spaces. Given the runny-nosed populations that flock here, I don't think anyone will be too surprised to find that bacteria lurk in these types of establishments.

"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."

So how can you protect your children (and yourself!) from picking up bacteria at kid-oriented restaurants? Here are Dr. Cara's top five tips:

1. Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing!
Make sure your kids wash their hands before they eat. And it's fine to use hand sanitizers or wipes to clean off the table surface or high chair -- but thorough rubbing is necessary. Don't just splatter on the Purell.

If they play after the meal, have them wash again before going home. This is especially important for thumb or finger suckers and nose pickers.

2. Wipes
Wipes are a great second line of defense, but really shouldn't be used in lieu of hand washing. Still, if there's no bathroom, wipe the hands thoroughly.

Also use wipes if the table (or especially the high chair) looks gross.

For babies, you can buy disposable plastic high chair tray covers that tape onto the tray and keep your child's food a lot cleaner. These are very easy to find in most grocery stores.

3. Avoid crowded kid play spaces during cold and flu season
This is not a news flash -- when a place is crowded with kids who have runny noses and coughs, you want to keep yours out of the mix.

4. Bring your own toys
Crayons, matchbox-sized cars, and legos are good examples of toys that you can keep in your purse or diaper bag and pull out for your child when things get a little boring.

At a place like Chuck E. Cheese's, crayons don't compete with rides. But there are plenty of other restaurants where having your own distraction helps.

5. Remember, timing is everything
I like to take my kids out when they are hungry, or time their snacks so that they'll want to eat when they arrive. That way, the likelihood of play before eating (and getting germs from toys on the hands) goes down.

next: Celebrity Double Trouble
144 comments so far | Post a comment now
Inkling April 2, 2009, 10:51 AM

ANYBODY with half a brain hsould realize what a germ infested place that restaurant is. The ball pit is NEVER cleaned, and the one that is for toddlers stinks like pee. Those balls should be removed and cleaned daily and the floor of the pit should be sanitized daily. The tubes that kids climb in are very dangerous. You can’t SEE your child in them and they are full of germs. If someone was in there molesting your child you wouldn’t know until it was too late. As for ChuckECheese’s “security” that is supposed to prevent anyone from kidnapping your child or you child wandering out the front door…well, that is a big nothing. ANYONE at ANYTIME can leave with your child.

Inkling April 2, 2009, 11:10 AM

My son was sick every day that he went to daycare because of the toys not being sanitized. He was not sick for any other reason. As soon as I removed him from daycare he got well, and he has only been sick twice in the past 11 years! The state requires daycare providers to do so many things to get state sanctioned, but they should require regular inspections of their homes or facilities for cleanliness.

Inkling April 2, 2009, 11:14 AM

The government schools should be sanitized daily. It isn’t enough to just mop the floors. The janitors should be wiping the desks with bleach daily as well as doorknobs, door, and door frames. I don’t send my child to public school. It is a breeding ground for germs and criminal activities, just like the prisons they run.

Grimace April 14, 2009, 11:48 AM

Germs are everywhere, get used to it

diana April 27, 2009, 5:38 PM

I resent the comment from the person that said a lot of low class people go to chuck e. cheese. I have a lot of class, educated and very “well off” financially.

I think the more appropriate common denominator to recognize is that a lot of people that have children go to chuck e. cheese. I agree it is disgusting, but kids love it.

so what do I do? I take them right when the place opens still armed w/sanitizer, and leave soon as the kids start coming in.

no one ever cleans there, so I clean up behind them.

My children have fun, and I feel better about them not getting sick…although it’s not a sure thing

Ed May 5, 2009, 11:40 AM

The flu and Chuckie e Cheese are not compatable, CEC stock is up and down like the bi-polar corp they are. They just pushed 2 Million to “prop up” there stock as if they know someing is going down, like 50 of Chuckie e Cheeses “down the tubes”. less profit, fist fights, and ones sited by the health Dept. Chuckie is taking a ride and it is not with the “bride of Chuckie”, for his on pleasure. No hours are being cut, ICE is at there door, and Mersa is running its course, and childern are still walking right out of kid check.

Give a child a quater, turn him into a addict. Take him to church and teach him how to make a dollar and not cast it unto a swine like Chuckie.

I love you guys….

Jennifer August 10, 2009, 5:42 PM

Wow I cannot believe how people are so rude just over a discussion of germs! For those of you saying “oh, so what about germs… Kids have immune systems…” well, listen to this. My decision to take my 5 year old son there almost killed him (literally). Last March we went to chuck e cheese during school vacation. Several days later… He had developed influenza. I never thought the flu could kill. But, infortuneately the flu turned into pneumonia with a pleural effusion, and his lung collapsed. He had 2 surgeries, had a chest tube placed, and was on a ventilator for two weeks. It was horrible to see this happen to my baby. He spent more than a month in the hospital, and came home on an IV for continued antibiotics for 3 months for an abcess that was left in his lung. I asked the infectious disease doctor about it, and he said he wouldn’t even bring his own kids to chuck e cheese. I can’t say for sure if that is where he got sick, but when I see the scars all over his arm, chest, and back… Its terrifies me to consider exposing my child to unneccessary places like that. All it takes is one time. Is it worth it? Why not read a book or play soccer outside instead?

birr crinton December 3, 2009, 2:20 PM

Jennifer. Your kid is a wussbag. I’m glad he’s alright. But he’s a top-notch wussinator.

Randall19Audrey July 18, 2010, 1:18 PM

I received 1 st loans when I was 32 and it helped my family very much. However, I require the collateral loan again.

Fashion Trends October 12, 2010, 2:39 PM

Nice! I facebooked this

chase online banking October 17, 2010, 10:04 PM

@Markus I get your drift on where you were going there. I often think of my past and use it as a means to analyze where I am and where I want to get to. Where I struggel is balancing it all out. How do you guys balance things out?

jj November 18, 2010, 6:59 PM

chuck E. is for the kids get over it!i go there with my kids never get sick. great prizes,great animatronocs,great food,and so on!!!!!!!!!!!! i love them! chuck E. cheese even hugged my kids! you people who keep thier kids in bubles can be my guest! let them get fat lazy no learn anything but you! some people make me SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! >:(

Biura do wynajęcia Wrocław November 29, 2010, 5:04 AM

Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

mieszkania Gdańsk November 30, 2010, 1:15 AM

I actually knew about most of this, but having said that, I still thought it was useful. Nice job!

osuszacze December 7, 2010, 5:26 AM

Keep up the good work. Everyone is opened to there opinion. Excellent blog here, i am still reading

aluminium December 8, 2010, 3:23 AM

I actually knew about most of this, but having said that, I still thought it was useful. Nice job!

Identyfikatory December 9, 2010, 5:59 AM

You should definately write more about this! Please!

monitor oddechu December 11, 2010, 1:31 AM

Hi, was just browsing through the internet looking for some information and came across your blog. I am impressed by the information that you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject. Bookmarked this page, will come back for more. You, my friend, ROCK!!!

Grecja December 13, 2010, 1:17 PM

Heyy – I should say, I sure am happy with your website. I had no trouble navigating via all of the tabs and the information was really easy to gain access to. I discovered what I wanted in no time at all. Pretty awesome. Thank s alot!

Jason Brown December 14, 2010, 12:43 AM

I was curious about if you ever considered replacing the page layout of your site? It is very well written; I enjoy what you have got to say. But maybe you could include a a bit more in the way of content so people can connect to it better. Youve got an awful lot of wording for only having one or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

Back to top >>