Why Metal-Bristle Grill Brushes May Be Hazardous to Your Health

published Jul 9, 2012
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Do you clean your grill with a metal-bristled brush, the type that comes in most grilling utensil sets? A new report warns that consumers should be aware of the potential health threat these brushes pose, as hospitals are treating more patients sickened by accidental ingestion of metal bristles that fall off the brushes and stick to food on the grill.

The Rhode Island Hospital released the most recent report, which documents six patients admitted to the hospital for severe neck or abdominal pain soon after eating grilled meat. After imaging tests revealed wire bristles lodged in their bodies, they had to undergo surgery to remove the bristles. Nearly all the patients had eaten steaks, burgers, or other meat from a grill recently scrubbed with a metal grill brush.

Dr. David Grand, the author of the report, says there is no way to know how common the phenomenon is at this point, but that consumers should be cautious when it comes to cleaning the grill. His advice:

Throw out old or worn metal brushes, and look for different ways to clean the grates. If the grill was recently cleaned with a wire brush, inspect the grill before lighting it or cooking on it. “In my house I wipe the grate down with a wet paper towel, hoping that if there is a bristle stuck in the grill, I’ll remove it,” he said.
• Read More: The Bristle Brush as Barbecue Hazard at The New York Times and Injuries from Ingestion of Wire Bristles from Grill-Cleaning Brushes at the Centers for Disease Control

If you’re looking for a risk-free metal-bristle brush alternative, we recommend using an onion instead!

Related: 20 Grilled Recipes & Cooking Lessons to Help You Master the Grill

(Image: Flickr member izik licensed under Creative Commons)