Flames aren’t the only things to beware when firing up the grill. That wire grill brush poses another serious BBQ threat. And their bristles have sent plenty of folks to the hospital!
Commonly Overlooked BBQ Danger
During warm weather and summer holidays, you’ll find plenty of people itching to break out the grill. Most folks already know they need to be cautious with things like fire, propane, and kerosene. But flames aren’t the only threat during grill season.
You know those wire grill brushes commonly used to scrape off the grates of the grill? Well, they pose a serious threat many never realize. Those heavy duty metal bristles can break off and find their way into the food. And once swallowed, they can do serious damage!
Wire Grill Brush Can Wreak Havoc
For one man in Australia, it took doctors more than a week to figure out why he was experiencing severe abdominal pain when trying to eat. After four visits to the emergency room, doctors finally located the problem. They performed surgery to remove a wire grill brush bristle from the man’s pancreas!
For a mom in Canada, a few hours after a 4th of July cookout, her 4-year-old son suddenly began screaming in pain. At first, they feared he was having a reaction due to his severe nut allergy. But other than choking and crying, he wasn’t exhibiting any of his other allergic reaction symptoms. Twenty-four hours and two hospital visits later, doctors surgically removed two metal bristles from his esophagus.
Another family had a similar scare with their 6-year-old son. After a Father’s Day barbecue, they boy suddenly began crying and became frantic.
"He was kind of hysterical," recalled dad Aaron Hargreaves. "He was pretty upset and he was saying there was something stuck in his throat."
After rushing him to the hospital, doctors found the culprit behind all the pain — a wire bristle in his esophagus. The fact that the bristle hadn’t traveled any further was a blessing.
“We were just so lucky it got caught in his throat and it didn’t puncture anything in there," he says. "If it would have made it into his stomach, the doctor said it could have been much worse."
Avoiding Wire Grill Brush Danger
The best way to keep safe from accidentally ingesting metal bristles is to steer clear of wire grill brushes all together. There are alternative methods for cleaning grill grates, such as using a pumice stone or a coil-shaped bristle-free brush.
If sticking with a stainless steel or brass wire grill brush, be sure to inspect it before and after every use. If any areas have fewer bristles than other or the brush is worn or warped in any way, toss it immediately. Wipe with a damp cloth before and after use, and don’t leave the brush out in the elements.
Be sure to share this story with others so they can stay safe while firing up the grill!