Cookout Goers Beware: Grill-Cleaning Brushes Cause Injuries

(Image credit: Food on grill via Shutterstock)

Before you throw that burger on the grill this July 4 holiday, you might want to check the grill surface for some not-so-edible objects.

In recent years, there have been several documented cases of people who ended up in the emergency room after ingesting wires that detached from grill-cleaning brushes, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report describes six such cases that occurred between March 2011 and June 2012. The patients, all treated at the same Rhode Island hospital, ranged in age from 31 to 64, and their injuries included a puncture of the soft tissues of the neck, which caused severe pain on swallowing, and perforation of the gastrointestinal tract, which required emergency abdominal surgery. All six patients fully recovered after treatment

"With the summer grilling season under way, broad awareness of the risk will help" in quickly and correctly diagnosing this injury, the CDC said. Diagnosis can be difficult because the bristles from grill-cleaning brushes are small, and can be quite difficult to see on imaging scans.

"Additionally, public awareness might result in careful examination of any grill surface before use, or use of alternative grill-cleaning methods or products," the CDC said.

Details about the types and brands of grill-cleaning brushes that afflicted the patients in the report were not available, so the CDC said it cannot make recommendations regarding which brands might be safer to use. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is currently reviewing information on the topic to see if product defects can be identified in grill-cleaning brushes that could pose an unreasonable risk for injury, the CDC said.

The new report, published today in the CDC's journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, was authored by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital. It is the second such report to come from that hospital system — the first described six cases that occurred between July 2009 and November 2010.

Together, the reports suggest that "such incidents might be more common than previously suspected," the CDC said.

Pass it on: Detached wire bristles from grill-cleaning brushes can be accidentally ingested and cause injury.

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Live Science Staff
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