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Play-skool believes it has built a better highchair: one that kills germs on the tray.

The bacteria-busters are permanently locked into the plastic antigerm tray on the Playskool 1-2-3 highchair, says the toymaker and the company that supplies the antibacterial plastics process.Playskool, a division of Hasbro, said the trays can help halt the spread of disease-causing bacteria, including E. coli, staph, strep and salmonella.

"You can wash off food with a sponge, but there's always the invisible part," said Ted Bretschger, Hasbro's vice president of juvenile products.

Some hospitals already use Micro-ban Products Co.'s antibacterial plastics process in their surgical drapes, mattresses and pillow covers.

Microban, of Huntersville, N.C., contacted Hasbro last year to form an alliance. If the antigerm chair proves popular in test markets, it could be sold nationwide by the end of summer, priced at about $80.

But one family physician questioned the idea.

"I don't know of any study that shows children are getting sick from their highchairs," said Dr. David Carter of Pawtucket.