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Is Chuck E. Cheese's Really Chuck E. Diseases??? Part 2

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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:

chuck e cheese and bacteria

"We clean and sanitize our games every night with an antibacterial sanitizing solution called Sterbac Blue. 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 mean 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.

Check out what we found at Chuck E. Cheese's. Yuck!

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: Dear Mad Mommy Blogger -- Get Over It!
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
Tamara Regan December 4, 2008, 2:50 PM

2 years ago my husband took our daughter to Chuck E Cheese and the next day we found that she had lice. We knew immediately that it had come from there because she was on break from school and had not been around anyone else (except us) for days! I was mortified and had a really hard time taking any of my kids back there.

james December 4, 2008, 2:55 PM

This report is terrible. I’m not sure what the swabber has against this restaurant, but I’d venture to say that swabbing the seats of your car would yield similarly innocuous bacteria.

This is why the world stinks now. These sensationalist articles target innocent businesses that are doing nothing wrong.

As far as the germophobic aspect to this smear piece, I washed my hands when I was a kid, and I didn’t eat things I found on the street. I also spent what likely amounts to a cumulative decade playing on indoor and outdoor playgrounds and eating at restaurants. I’m now 37 and haven’t ever contracted anything close to the random illnesses you cite in this article.

Leave Chuck E. Cheese alone. A lot of adults I know have very fond memories of this and similar kid-friendly restaurants as destinations for birthday parties and family outings. If you want to protect your kid from commonplace bacteria, raise them in a plastic bubble and start a savings account for long term psych therapy when they hit high school. Stop spreading this hateful paranoia.

Daniel DuBois December 4, 2008, 7:00 PM

Showing the germs found at Chuck E. Cheese without showing for the sake of comparison the germs found, inside your minivan, at Red Lobster, or at the park, can best be described as “shoddy reporting”. We all know there are germs everywhere. The question here is does Chuck E. Cheese have more than the “should” have, given the plethora of kids running through there? Are they taking reasonable precautions? Should they be doing more than they are doing?

Tammy December 5, 2008, 1:34 AM

Not to mention, just ask anyone of those people to swab under their own fingernails..inside their running shoes, etc., the whole reason we have super germs is because of over using antibacterials, bacterias are a part of our lives..hand wipes, and washing your hands are all you need…hell, assuming that we are all middle aged people with children try remembering what YOU use to do as a kid!!! And SURVIVED with good health!!

Apryl December 10, 2008, 10:48 PM

Doesn’t matter where you go. These germs are everywhere. CEC just happen to be the one to be tested. My advise. Carry hand wipes with you and wash hands/table before eating. You can only try or never come out of your home. ( which has germs also ),,,,,,

ashlie December 19, 2008, 6:20 PM

I am a mother of a 2 yr old out here in San Diego, CA. My son loves Chucky Cheese and now I will not go back. After a day of it my son got a fever within 2 hrs of leaving there and then I ended up in the hospital with meningitis. The doc said that alot of mothers come down with it after a visit at chucky cheese. Not worth the trip.

Krystin December 26, 2008, 12:21 PM

I worked for chuck e cheeses for 3 years, and although this report sounds scary, I honestly can say that I never got sick from trying to clean any of the areas. The only time I really got sick was when I was doing the Merchandise counter during flu season. All those sick kids jammed into one building is going to make people sick, even if you clean like crazy.

Megan January 10, 2009, 4:40 PM

Oh phooey- get a life. Kids raised in a sterile enviornment will get sick the moment they get out into the real world. Like the others said, when was the last time you scrubbed your carseats down? When was the last time you emptied out those plastic bins your kids toys are piled in to scrub them, or meticulously wiped every toy down? And for those germophobes out there, did your kids stay healthier?

My daughter is turning two Feb 18th, and she’s (knock on wood) never had as much as a sniffle. I take obvious precautions, like we wash our hands after the bathroom and before eating, but I don’t worry overmuch about germs. Keep away from sick kids, cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough and sneeze, and play away. Don’t let germs get in the way of life.

Elaine January 10, 2009, 7:55 PM

For the lady who found head lice after visiting the Chuck E Cheese.
There is no way you can get head lice in 2 days. That came from school. It takes longer than 2 days for that to develop.

Erin January 13, 2009, 5:40 PM

To Elaine, I disagree with you. Do a little research on this you would be surprised. If a kid had bad enough head lice yes you could get it in 2 days or less.

Anonymous February 13, 2009, 2:51 PM

You people should be ashamed of yourselves, bacteria are everywhere whether you like it or not. Dragging a companies name through the dirt when this is naturally occuring everywhere. You know what makes me sick…..people like you.

Me February 13, 2009, 2:56 PM

To everyone afraid to go to Chuck E Cheese because of this report….you better not send your kids to school ever again either, I’m sure it’s far worse there. This report is terrible and only causes people to be paranoid. Let you kids live their lives and if they get a cold give them some Robitussin!!!

aim February 23, 2009, 9:56 PM

Until recently I never had a problem with chuck e cheese. Now for the second time, my 2 year old has ended up with 104 fever the day after a trip there. He is in daycare and doesn’t get sick often. I’m not bashing the establishment, more the parents that take their snot nosed, sick children to these places (school and daycare included).

Mark March 1, 2009, 11:40 PM

I would be less concerned witht he germ factor and moreso with the fact that these restaurant’s games resmble kiddie casinos. Riding rides or playing games with tokens is fine, however, the whole ticket reward system to redeem for prizes, candy and such is more than a little similar to playing slots for credits to be redeemed at the cashiers window. Start ‘em early; the psychological ambiance of the place is the same as a casino.

mc March 26, 2009, 1:15 PM

I guess if you have had children in the Hospital for catching serious illnesses caused by viral/bacterial germs…you would ultimately think twice. I went to this place once (and I won’t be back!) But I agree, it’s not the place for a small newborn/infant, and stay out of places like these during cold & flu season…and wash, wash & wash hands! Places like these scare me, shopping carts scare me…bad stomach bugs and rotavirus are the first thing that come to mind.

lynn March 26, 2009, 1:27 PM

Forget germs, my son was assaulted in the aerial play tubes at CEC. I was standing just below him, however, the tubes were opaque and I couldn’t see what was going on. I heard him crying and had climb up there to rescue him. Another little boy was trying to shake him down for tokens and when I complained, I was told that it was not the first time it had happened.

kk March 26, 2009, 1:31 PM

Chuck E Cheese like a casino?? You seriously need to get a f******g life!!
The problem with kids these days is that people like you are raising them!!!!!

Anonymous March 26, 2009, 1:57 PM

for one thing just to let u all know look it up ! It takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks to contract and show symptoms of any illness any doctor will tell u this in any child their body will fight the illness till the illness takes its course and it takes from 1 to 2 weeks to show symptoms so leave businesses alone for you over protective assanine parents who are afraid that the shadow is gonna make jonny sick when it is you with your anti-bacterial everything that is why we now have the common cold that last for 1 to 2 months

Anonymous March 26, 2009, 2:03 PM

exactly when i was a child i played in the yard in grass and in trees and lived in a home that when i was sick i didnt go to the hospital i had a bowl of chicken soup not a strong dose of antibiotics that is the problem with the world now a days as parents you need to let your child get the common cold and get the flu they will have a stronger immunity to the bacteria that live in our world there are more bacteria on your own body then anywhere else in the world you could look so parents of children let their immune systems do the job they are meant to do not the antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer and body soap and shampoos !!!!! from seriously irritated with american parents always blaming someone or something else but who deserves the blame you !!!!!

WV Dad March 26, 2009, 2:13 PM

My first and only visit to Chucky’s, I was greeted at my table with a puddle of vomit. This was so discusting that we left with the kids screaming. How could a restaurant allow that to just sit there. The young lady who seated us just stepped over it. When I complained she just looked at me. Still makes me angry to think about it. This happened in Bridgville, PA.

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