Beware The Metal Brush: The Hidden Danger of BBQ Season
August 24, 2020 | By: Lara Fitzgerald-Husek
Barbeque season in Canada can last long after the long weekends – often until the first snowfall. When barbequing, the biggest concern for most is ensuring food is properly cooked (and making sure everyone has enough to eat). There is, however, a growing concern amongst Canadian surgeons regarding the ingestion of bristles from barbeque cleaning brushes.
Most barbeque cleaning brushes have short, thin wire bristles. These bristles can detach from the brushes and stick to the grills, where they transfer unseen into food and are ingested.
Once eaten, the bristles can become lodged in the digestive system and cause excruciating pain and can puncture the esophagus, abdomen or intestines. In some cases, physicians can extract the wires early on; other times, laparoscopic surgery is required for deeply embedded wires.
The problem is serious enough that both Health Canada and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control have taken notice. On its website, Health Canada urges Canadians “to inspect your BBQ brush before each use and throw it away if you notice that the bristles are loose or stuck to the grill.”
Grills can be cleaned with aluminum foil or nylon brushes instead of wire brushes and should be wiped down with a cloth and inspected before cooking food.
If you experience severe esophageal or abdominal pain after attending a barbeque, you should seek medical attention.