We all know that McDonald‘s food is gross but turns out their PlayPlace indoor playgrounds are, too. This according to Erin Carr-Jordan, an Arizona mom who’s visiting and videotaping various playlands across the country them and swabbing them for microbial testing.

Carr-Jordan began her crusade last year after following her toddler through a McDonald’s playground and discovering shocking amounts of filth and food. She called the manager to complain and when she received no response, Carr-Jordan posted a video tour of the structure on YouTube. (The manger eventually apologized and the space was sanitized.)

Now the mom of four and developmental psychologist is on a family road trip and she tells the Tribune that she has seen similar conditions in restaurants, from McDonald’s to Burger King to Chuck E. Cheese, across the country (everything from broken pieces of equipment and sticky surfaces to trapped hair and morsels of food). She says she’s found alarming conditions in rich and poor neighborhoods alike.

Meanwhile, Carr-Jordan has been sending her swab samples to a lab and, according to the Tribune, they’ve so far found staphylococcus and other bacteria. Annissa Furr, a microbiology professor in Arizona, is working with her to collect and analyze the data to encourage legislators to act on the issue, according to the report.

While some of the fast-food chains regularly clean their playlands, many don’t have set protocols. (The Tribune asked companies whether they disinfect areas with steam cleaning or other methods, and none responded.)

I commend Carr-Jordan’s activism and agree that spaces geared towards children need clear guidelines in terms of healthy and safety. That said, I also believe that parents like Carr-Jordan have a choice not to take their kids to fast-food joints in the first place (this is all reminding me of the woman who sued Chuck E. Cheese earlier this year for promoting gambling in kids). Sure, it’s hard to find wintertime activities to do with the family – I personally loathe malls – but if you feel that strongly about the conditions of the these playlands then the obvious solution would be not to visit them.

(Photo: flickr.com)