Grilling Safety Tips

Wire-bristle brushes used to clean grills may do more harm than good

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

(RxWiki News) As you prepare for Summer, it's important to know the dangers associated with cleaning the grill with wire-bristle brushes, according to a new study.

This new study was conducted at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Lead study author Dr. David Chang identified 1,698 injuries from 2002 to 2014 that were a result of wire-bristle grill brushes.

These injuries resulted in a visit to an emergency room. The study did not look at injuries identified at urgent care facilities or other outpatient settings, so the number of injuries may actually be higher.

The most common injuries identified were oral cavity, throat and tonsil injuries. Some required surgery.

The reason behind the injuries associated with wire-bristle brushes? When cleaning the grill, loose bristles can fall off of the brush and end up in the food. If ingested, these bristles can cause harm. Dr. Chang also warned about the potential for loose bristles to cause damage to the esophagus, stomach or intestines — if bristles bypass the oral cavity.

Dr. Chang said individuals should always inspect their food for loose bristles before consuming. He also recommended using alternative methods to clean the grill, such as nylon-bristle brushes.

Individuals are also recommended to inspect the grill before cooking. If you decide to continue to use wire-bristle brushes to clean the grill, inspect the brush before and after use to make sure there aren't any loose bristles. If the brush has loose bristles, it should be discarded.

"If cautionary measures fail and individuals do experience problems with swallowing or pain after eating something that has been barbecued or grilled, they should seek advice from a physician or an emergency department and let the physician know that they were just at a barbecue event or they just grilled food,” Dr. Chang said in a press release.

This study was published in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. The researchers did not disclose any outside funding or conflicts of interests.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 25, 2016
Last Updated:
May 31, 2016