Dr. Nandi looks at the hidden dangers of grilling out

Posted at 1:48 PM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-05 16:34:18-04

This is something I’ve dealt with at the ER and it can be very scary for the patient. It happens when a thin wire bristle from a grill brush breaks free and sticks to the grill.  It gets cooked into the food and then eaten.  Researchers analyzed data between 2002 and 2014. They found roughly 130 Americans each year visited an emergency room because they’ve swallowed a wire bristle. 

The number may actually be higher because researchers were not able to include data from those who visited urgent care clinics.  Regardless, swallowing a wire bristle poses health dangers.  28% of those who were treated were admitted to the hospital.  Bristles are sharp.  You could end up with a punctured digestive tract, a serious infection and you may need surgery to remove the bristle.  

Partha’s RX
1.     It’s best to avoid wire bristle brushes, instead try nylon bristles or wire mesh brushes to clean your grill.
2.     If you stick with a wire brush, always check for loose bristles before using.  If it’s frayed or worn, please replace it.
3.     Wipe down your grill with a moist cloth after you’ve cleaned it.  And inspect the grates before cooking.
4.     Before serving barbecued food, check it for bristles. You can also cook using tin foil directly on the grill.  

You’ll feel it if a bristle gets stuck in your mouth or throat.  If it gets down in your intestines, you can experience a sharp pain in your stomach, however this is rare.  If you think you’ve swallowed a bristle, seek help immediately.