Summer wouldn’t be complete without ribs and burgers sizzling on the barbecue grill. But, those hot-weather American staples can bring a rise in injuries from wire bristle grill brushes.
Loose bristles can fall off the brush while you’re cleaning the grill grate and end up in food. If consumed, they can cause injuries to the mouth, throat and tonsils.
This is according to a recent study conducted by Dr. David Chang, an associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Missouri.
“One little bristle unrecognized could lodge itself in various areas of the body, like the throat, tonsil or neck region,” said Chang.
If the bristle passes through the mouth and throat, it could get stuck in the esophagus, stomach or the intestine. The biggest worry is the intestine.
“The bristles could migrate out of the intestine and cause further internal damage,” Chang explained.
From 2002 to 2014, wire-bristle grill brushes caused more than 1,600 injuries according to a previous study. And while injuries from these brushes occur throughout the year, they are more common in summer months.
“Physicians and product manufacturers need to educate others about the dangers of wire-bristle grill brushes and promote safety,” said Chang.
What to Watch For
If you use a wire-bristle grill brush, follow these safety tips.
- Examine the cleaning tool before each use. Throw it out if bristles are loose.
- Check your barbecue grill for bristles before cooking.
- Carefully inspect grilled food after cooking to make sure no bristles are stuck to the food.
Another suggestion — try alternative grill-cleaning methods, such as nylon-bristle brushes.
If someone develops swallowing problems or pain after eating food from a grill, they should see a doctor.