NSF Scrub Club

August 24, 2005

Greta Houlahan
NSF International
Phone: +1.734.913.5723

Matt Lindstrom
Phone: (612) 215-7272

State And County Fair Season Means Petting Zoos... And The Potential For E. coli
On-line "Soaper-Heroes" and Rott'n Roll Star "Big E" Teach Kids How to Wash Their Hands and Avoid E. coli

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (August 24, 2005) - As children and adults visit petting zoos this summer and fall, they may be going home with more than they expected-a battle with E. coli. Late summer and fall are the times when transmission of E. coli is most common at petting zoos and fairs, according to a study in the Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news is that seven on-line "soaper-heroes" at are saving the day as they teach kids that avoiding E. coli can be as simple as washing their hands properly. The Scrub Club's(tm) fun new game, "Big E.'s Grossest Hits," delivers the message in an easy, entertaining way. The interactive match game featuring the famous Rott'n Roll star "Big E" ( a.k.a. E. coli,), teaches kids how E. coli is spread and how to prevent it using the six steps of handwashing. If the player makes six matches they will send the "King Of All Bacteria" back to Grossland.

"Now is the time of year when families visit petting zoos, and these zoos are one of the places kids and adults can come in contact with E. coli," says William Fisher, vice president at NSF International, which is an independent, not-for-profit organization that certifies products and writes public health standards. "The Scrub Club characters we've created spring into action to do their part in educating kids about infectious diseases and proper handwashing, which is a key building block in overall public health."

The Scrub Club - a free animated, interactive Web site ( developed by NSF International - was developed as a fun way for kids to learn the importance of washing their hands. Proper handwashing is one of the most effective things that we can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness to each other.

About E. coli
At petting zoos, E. coli can be spread when people come in contact with animals and then put their fingers or other items in their mouths. Animals can carry a wide range of germs, including E. coli, without showing any signs of disease. In October 2004, 43 people contracted E. coli at a petting zoo at the North Carolina State Fair, while 26 people, most of them children, were infected with E. coli at fairs in Florida over the past winter. Symptoms of E. coli infection include watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Young children, especially those younger than age 5, are more likely to have severe symptoms. Results could be kidney failure and death in some cases. E. coli is transmitted from animals to people through a variety of ways including contact at petting zoos and eating contaminated food (such as raw or undercooked meat). Other ways to contract E. coli include consumption of contaminated fruits, vegetables or deli meats; unpasteurized milk and juice; or by swimming in or drinking contaminated water.

About the Scrub Club
Each of the Scrub Club kids represents one of the six steps in the handwashing process - "Hot Shot" and "Chill" combine to make the warm water essential for proper handwashing; "Squeaks" turns into various forms of soap; "Taki" becomes a clock that counts down the required 20 seconds for proper handwashing; "Scruff" reminds kids to clean around their nails; "Tank" turns into a sink to rinse away the germs and "P.T." transforms into paper towels.

The cornerstone of the Web site is still a "Webisode" featuring the Scrub Club as they join forces to fight off harmful germs and bacteria, teaching children the proper way to wash their hands along the way. The first "Webisode," "The Good, the BAC, and the Ugly," finds the Scrub Club battling the loathsome, but loveable character BAC (from the Partnership for Food Safety Education's Fight BAC! food safety public education campaign), and one of his partners in "grime" Sal Monella in a wild-west themed adventure. The Partnership for Food Safety Education, a non-profit organization, unites industry associations, consumer and public health groups and the USDA, CDC, FDA and EPA to educate the public about safe food handling and preparation.

In addition to the "Webisode," the site features the "Scrub Club Theme Song" and "Handwashing Song" sung by Phil Solem, singer for The Rembrandts (known for the Friends' theme song "I'll Be There For You"). Interactive games, activities for kids to download, educational materials for teachers, program information for parents and tips and activities for the home not only enhance the educational value of the site but also make it fun for kids to return to the site time and time again.

Related links:

NSF International

The Partnership for Food Safety Education

Clean Hands Coalition

Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report

About NSF International
NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization, helps protect you by certifying products and writing standards for food, water, air and consumer goods ( Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting public health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. Additional services include safety audits for the food and water industries, management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations, Ltd., organic certification provided by Quality Assurance International and education through the NSF Center for Public Health Education.

Scrub Club® and Scrub Club characters are copyright 2007 NSF International.
"BAC" character copyright 2006 The Partnership for Food Safety Education.

Please distribute Scrub Club® materials freely in classrooms, publications, etc.,
provided that credit is given to NSF International.