Entries in Grilling (3)


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


Surprise! Men, Meat and Masculinity Linked

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- There’s no summer activity manlier than slapping a thick steak on the grill and chowing down, according to a new study.

The report published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people associate meat with masculinity, a fact that may make healthier, vegetable-heavy diets seem wimpy and unappealing.

“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, all-American food,” the authors wrote. “Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”

Researchers conducted a series of studies testing metaphors associated with food. They found that people from Western cultures typically link manliness with meat, especially meatier muscle like steak. They also found that people associated meat with more masculine words and that meat-eaters are considered manlier than those who steer clear of or don’t dine on swine or cattle.

Interestingly, the researchers found that meat was associated with the male gender in 23 languages that assign gender to certain words.

Maybe the association comes from thoughts of strength and power in the muscle that meat comes from, the researchers speculated, or maybe it comes from thoughts of macho activities like hunting. Whatever the case, the study suggested that men seem to feel uneasy about picking a Portobello mushroom over a pork chop.

The health risks associated with meat-heavy diets are becoming increasingly evident. One study found that eating a single serving of red meat every day was linked to an increased risk of early death.

Dr. Ulka Agarwal, chief medical officer for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a non-profit group that promotes preventive medicine, animal rights and plant-based diets, said the “meat is macho, veggies are lame” mindset is really an outdated way of thinking about eating.

“The face of plant-based diets is changing as they become more mainstream,” Agarwal said. “It’s not just hippies, but also professional athletes who are following plant-based diets now.”

PCRM is already working on promoting the pros of plant-eating to men. The group that was behind controversial billboards in Chicago proclaiming that “hot dogs cause butt cancer” now promotes a program featuring masculine celebrities such as NBA players, firefighters  and ultra marathoners discussing the benefits of eating a plant-based diet and how it helps them perform.

Agarwal said an easy way to start on a plant-based diet is to avoid eating meat for one day a week.

“Easing people into these changes can really help them develop a taste for plant-based foods,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pointers for Avoiding Food Poisoning During Grilling Season

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- With Memorial Day weekend bringing summer grilling season into full swing, the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods' Home Food Safety program have released some pointers to avoid food poisoning.

Keeping your hands clean is the number one rule for, well, most everything. The ADA urges chefs to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds in soapy water before and after being around raw meat. Other rules include seperating meat from food that does not require cooking, cooking meat to a safe temperature on food thermometers, scrubbing the grill before using it, and using paper towels.

More information about food safety can be found on the American Dietetic Association's website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio