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Grill Brushes are a Safety Risk

Grill Brushes are a Safety Risk

Grill brushes are ubiquitous tools used at backyard barbeques every summer. You might never suspect they could be dangerous but doctors across the country are sounding the alarm to throw them out immediately. 

What’s the risk? When the wire bristles used to clean the grill grate break off and stick to food, they can cause serious harm that’s led to hundreds of emergency room visits. An estimated 1,700 Americans went to the ER with wire bristle injuries between 2002 and 2014, according to Consumer Reports. The bristles had lodged into the gums, throat, intestines, or colon

Most wire brush injuries occur in the gums or throat; these can be extracted in the emergency room. A bristle in the neck area could migrate to the soft tissue and require surgery. In the rare event that bristle makes its way all the way down to the intestine, it runs the risk of pushing its way through the wall of the intestine causing the contents of the intestines to leak into the abdominal cavity. In this case, you will need early medical attention to ensure survival. 

Ogden Clinic’s ENT Doctor Bryan Wilcox says he’s come across abstracts of throat and intestine injuries over the last several years. “There are several different risks those little bristles pose, from esophageal perforation to possible mediastinitis which can be life-threatening.” 

Alternatives to Wire Brushes for Cleaning the Grill 

Dr. Wilcox recommends disposing of your wire brush this summer and picking up a safer one. “They now make grill brushes with coils that don’t break off, as well as brushes that use other mechanisms like steam cleaning,” says Dr. Wilcox. 

Another tool gaining traction across the internet is an onion. The natural acidity and moisture from a sliced onion will loosen debris and stuck-on food. Just skewer the onion to avoid burning yourself and read these instructions first.