A wire grill brush is used for cleaning the grates and other interior areas of the grill. It is a common grill tool and one you might suspect to be harmless. However, it can cause serious damage to the body, especially if you are unaware of the troubles it can cause. Let us explain how a grill brush can be dangerous.
The Potential Danger of a Wire Grill Brush
A typical wire grill brush contains numerous wire bristles. Over time, some wire brushes (usually cheap ones) begin to shed their wire bristles. While the shedded wire can be detected and eliminated with a keen eye, it can also inadvertently get mixed into the food that is being grilled. If someone ends up consuming the wire, it can cause serious problems to the mouth, throat, stomach, and other areas of the digestive system.
Problems Caused by Wire Bristles
There are numerous examples of the troubles caused by bristles being ingested. Here are a few examples of the dangers of wire grill brushes from media stories:
WKBN reports that a Guilford Lake, Ohio woman swallowed a bristle that was cooked into her hamburger. The bristle ended up getting stuck in her throat. Several doctors tried to locate and remove the bristle over a few days but were unsuccessful. At the time of the story, the woman was experiencing a persistent cough and the wire was still not located.
9News indicates that a Brisbane, Queensland man swallowed a bristle with his steak dinner. The bristle got lodged in his esophagus requiring the man to spend three days in the hospital. He was issued antibiotics as a treatment.
Today reports a story of a 4-year old boy who unknowingly swallowed two bristles, which ended up lodged in his throat. The boy required surgery to remove the tiny bristles from his esophagus. The article indicates that the bristles were attached to the boy’s food, which is how he ended up swallowing them.
Are Wire Bristles a Major Problem?
Before we start tossing our wire grill brushes in the trash, let’s look at how serious a problem these loose bristles are to people who enjoy grilling.
A study by the University of Missouri School of Medicine estimated that 1,698 emergency department visits were made between 2002 to 2014. This is less than 150 visits per year.
Arguably, this figure is underwhelming, but we have to consider that a certain number of people do not visit a hospital for their grill brush injuries. Additionally, places such as urgent care visits (non-emergency room visits) are not included in the study’s figure. The most common injury location is the oropharynx, which is the area directly behind the tongue.
At least one country, Canada, has considered banning wire bristle grill brushes in the past. CBC News reports that Health Canada was considering the ban after 24 injury reports were disclosed to the agency. The agency ultimately decided against the ban despite recognizing “potentially severe or life-threatening circumstances” from swallowing bristles. Instead, the agency recommended that the industry move toward creating safer brushes.
Grill Brush Safety
If you opt to purchase a wire grill brush, you should be sure it is one of the best brushes available for your money. Read the reviews to see if anyone has commented on the brush shedding bristles.
If you have an existing wire brush, you should closely monitor it for signs of shedding. Routinely examine the grill grates for loose bristles. Stop using the brush if you notice it is losing bristles.
Additionally, you should consider using a grill brush that does not have wire bristles. There are many alternatives available such as stainless steel, wood, nylon, and polyester that do an excellent job without having wire that can shed. Wire brushes are relatively inexpensive, so replacing one will not break the bank for most people.