And you thought that cleaning the barbecue was a safe exercise, think again. New research has examined the incidence of injuries caused by ingesting wire bristles from grill brushes. Yes I am serious, this can actually be a problem!
We usually highlight chemical risks in this blog and there are a few linked to barbecuing. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons easily come to mind as one of the more problematic process contaminants formed during careless barbecuing. They are suspect carcinogens to be avoided if at all possible. Physical risks are less common. Sure you can burn your hands over the barbecue fire when cooking your food. But wire bristles?
Although the peak season for barbecuing is over in Australia as of the writing of this blog in early April, it is soon approaching in the northern hemisphere. Thus the US researchers prompted physicians and consumers to take notice of their findings before the summer grilling season. The researchers reviewed literature and used the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the consumer reported injury database SaferProducts.gov to derive a national weighted estimate of emergency department visits for wire bristle injury from 2002 to 2014. They estimated that there were 1698 cases presented to emergency departments in that time. However, they further considered it likely that the issue is under reported. Because of the uncommon nature of wire bristle injuries, people may not be as mindful about the dangers and implications. Awareness among emergency department physicians, radiologists, and otolaryngologists is particularly important so that appropriate tests and examinations can be conducted.
The most common location of injury was the oral cavity and the oropharynx which includes the throat and tonsils. In all databases, injuries involving the esophagus and head and neck were more frequent than abdominal injuries.
So another reason to exercise caution when cleaning grills with wire-bristle brushes. It might pay off to examine brushes prior to each use and discarding if bristles are loose. And why not inspect cooking grates prior to cooking to be on the safe side even for this odd problem.