Entries in Barbecue Grills (2)


Growing Concern: Grill Brush Bristles Get Stuck in Food, Throats

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) -- Few things taste better at the end of a summer day than a juicy burger or steak hot off the grill. But when a piece of wire from the grill cleaning brush gets stuck in your food, not to mention your throat or stomach, that dinner can quickly turn hazardous to your health. One hospital has reported a rash of such cases.

Doctors from Rhode Island Hospital reported this week that six people came to the emergency department from 2011 to 2012 with wire bristles from grill brushes lodged in their throats, stomachs, intestines or other organs after eating meat cooked on an outdoor grill.

The cases were the second round of such injuries at the hospital. In 2009 and 2010, another six patients came to the ER with the same problems, the doctors reported in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Dr. David Grand, the lead author of the report and a diagnostic radiologist at Rhode Island Hospital, said the injuries are relatively infrequent compared with the number of people who grill and use grill brushes every day. But he said it probably happens more often than doctors may suspect.

"What was most striking about this collection is that we saw so many cases at just one hospital," Grand said. "I started getting calls from around the country from doctors who had seen similar injuries in their patients."

Concern over grill brushes has been simmering lately as these injuries have popped up around the U.S. In May, Sen. Charles Schumer called for a federal review of grill brush safety by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration after hearing reports of two men, in New Jersey and Washington, who had been injured and needed surgery after accidentally ingesting a bristle.

In response to Schumer's request, the CPSC combed data on injuries from hospital emergency departments around the U.S. and found nine cases of people injured by swallowing brush bristles reported since 2007. Grill brushes were also responsible for 28 other injuries since 2007, eight of which came about when consumers reported that a bristle got stuck on the grill or in their food.

The commission is reviewing the reports "to see if there is an identifiable pattern of defect in the product category or a specific product that could create an unreasonable risk of injury or death," CPSC chair Inez Tenenbaum said in a letter to Schumer in June.

Grand said his team was unable to link any of the injuries at Rhode Island Hospital to a particular product or brand of grill brushes.

ABC News contacted several companies that manufacture grill brushes. Michael Wales, a spokesman for the Grill Daddy Brush Company, said the company rigorously tests its products and has never had any reports of consumers accidentally swallowing the stainless steel bristles from their brushes. Other companies did not respond to requests for comment.

When swallowing a wire bristle leads to a puncture in the intestines, the bacteria lining the gut can filter into the bloodstream, increasing the risk of widespread infection in the body. Additionally, some of the bristles have to be removed surgically, which always comes with possible complications.

Once lodged in the body, the bristles may also puncture other, larger organs. When one woman swallowed a bristle, it went through her stomach and lodged in her liver, Grand said.

Dr. Joel Levine, a professor of gastroenterology at the University of Connecticut, said he's not surprised that a wire bristle might get stuck in a bite of steak or a burger, but the risk of someone's being injured from their grill brush is probably a "low-probability event."

"Actually, the risks from what you are cooking on the grill likely outweigh the brush bristles," Levine said. "High amounts of grilled meats have been long known as a cancer risk."

The CPSC advises consumers to inspect their grills before firing them up, keeping an eye out for stray pieces of metal that could get stuck in food. Grand said barbecuers should replace worn-out grill brushes or consider using cleaning tools that don't use wire bristles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


10 Tips to Avoid Fires, Injuries While Barbecuing

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every year, 7,000 Americans are injured while using backyard barbecue grills.  It's usually a case of good products used incorrectly.

ABC News teamed up with Underwriters Laboratories, the non-profit company that puts the UL mark on products it has tested for safety, to highlight the most common mistakes and key safety tips.  Here are the top 10:


1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house.  Farther is even better.  This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages, and porches.

2. Clean your grill regularly.  If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire.

3. Check for gas leaks.  You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections.  Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.)  If the soap forms large bubbles, that's a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.

4. Keep decorations away from your grill.  Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas provide fuel for a fire.  To make matters worse, today's decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.

5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy.  That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it.

6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill.


7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed.  It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face.

8. Leave a grill unattended.  Fires double in size every minute.

9. Overload your grill with food.  This applies especially to fatty meats.  If too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.

10. Use a grill indoors.  In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas.  That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio