ABC's The Lookout brought the Boles family from New Hampshire to Houston, Texas for a traditional family road trip. But on this vacation was a special team of swabbers taking samples all along the way to see what would be the germiest hotspot on their journey. From Houston to San Antonio the Swab Team took samples at the Kemah Boardwalk, The Houston Space Center, Rudy's Texas Bar-B-Q and SeaWorld San Antonio. The samples were sent to the Soil, Water, and Environmental Science lab at the University of Arizona, where germ expert Dr. Charles Gerba and his team tested for the presence of bacteria, fecal bacteria, MRSA and the bacteria that causes staph infections.
The companies that ABC News visited responded to our findings:
Response From Kemah Boardwalk COO Keith Beitler:
"We take the health and safety of our customers and employees very seriously, and we have standard protocols in place, similar to Disney properties, to ensure that all preventative health and safety requirements are met.
Unfortunately, when you have more than 20,000 people a day come into a public environment you can't safeguard against all germs that people naturally carry on their bodies.
Our practices at our hotels, entertainment and dining establishments are sanitary, safe and consistent with all businesses. We will continue to take the appropriate steps to help ensure the safety of our customers and employees."
Response From Rudy's Bar-B-Q Vice President of Operations Pete Bassett:
"Rudy's Texas Bar-B-Q, LLC has been serving real Texas Bar-B-Q for more than two decades and has always placed the safety of our guests and employees above anything else. This includes ensuring that we meet and exceed the health code standards for each of our stores.
The Rudy's in Webster, TX has passed all health and safety inspections with a perfect rating since opening in 2010.
Rudy's Bar-B-Q is proud of being a responsible corporate citizen and will never compromise the health and safety of our guests. "
Response From SeaWorld Director of Communications and Interactive Marketing Brian M. Carter:
"At SeaWorld San Antonio, the safety and well-being of our guests, employees, and animals are our top priority. Our restaurants receive regular inspections by San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, and Seafire Grille has received excellent scores in these inspections.
While we have no reason to discount the opinion of Dr. Gerba, we also have no way of independently validating the means of collecting these samples or the manner in which they were stored, tested and analyzed. We are, however, pleased to read Dr. Gerba's opinion that conditions do not pose a serious health risk. We will look into the claims made here and correct any behaviors that do not meet our safety and hygiene standards."
Response From Director of Marketing at Space Center Houston Roger Bornstein:
"We are pleased to host hundreds-of-thousands of visitors each year and have always held a steadfast commitment to providing a clean, family-friendly experience for all of our visitors.
The cleaning agents we employ regularly are non-toxic, EPA-registered, and U.S. patented molecule-based products that are recognized as some of the best and safest in the industry. The pathogen levels are consistently monitored and treatrnent schedules are adjusted accordingly. This is in addition to our ongoing rigorous daily cleaning schedule performed by our own staff.
In addition, our facility has dozens of free, high-quality hand sanitizer stations strategically placed throughout the venue offering protection against harmful pathogens and bacteria.
We believe the results, as stated by Dr. Gerba, that the range of pathogens tested puts Space Center Houston within acceptable standards. These results reveal Space Center Houston's dedication to offering visitors a safe, clean, family-friendly experience.
To further ensure guest satisfaction and safety this summer season, we already have plans in place to include additional disinfection days to the schedule."