Remember the joy you felt climbing through the tunnels at your McDonald's PlayPlace? Yeah, me too. And I don't particularly remember getting sick. But according to Erin Carr-Jordan's independent findings, we were all playing wrist-deep in pretty gnarly bacteria. Fun!

Dr. Carr-Jordan, a professor of developmental psychology and mother of four, has spent the last few months investigating the play structures of more than fifty fast food franchises, including McDonald's, Burger King, and Chuck E. Cheese's. After sending cultures to a lab, she found evidence of "coliform, four different kinds of staph, likely meningitis and gonorrhea, and more."

Scary stuff. And her findings were from a broad swath of restaurants, from rich and poor areas. All this in spite of the fact that most companies have some kind of protocol regarding play areas. Meanwhile, food departments don't typically inspect the structures as part of the restaurant, letting the problem go unchecked.

What's next? Carnivals?? [LA Times via Huffington Post]