The Barbeque Experience in Texas is a time-honored tradition. The family cook offs, the holiday extravaganzas, and the ultimate weekend tailgates are memorable. Unfortunately, for some revelers, the memory is far from what they expected.
The frequency of wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes finding their way into food is alarming. The standard grill brush sheds several of its fine metal bristles during every grill cleaning. These little metal parts often find their way onto the cooking surface.
These tiny bristles can get snared into fajita meat, hamburger or any food that touches the surface area of the grill. These fine metal bristles can be swallowed with the mouthful of delectable BBQ that is covered in the secret family recipe sauce.
When ingested, these metal bristles can penetrate the lips or tongue or even worse – the esophagus, stomach, or bowels. The metal bristle is so sharp the soft tissue is easily perforated. These perforations lead to poisoning of the body and an extremely painful experience. It is challenging to diagnose and the surgery to remove the culprits can be difficult.
The frequent response from consumers regarding grill brushes is: “I have seen the bristles fall off but I simply brush them off into the coals” or “Really, how often does that happen?” The truth is the frequency of patients visiting hospitals is alarming. Most major area hospitals will see, on average, 6-10 patients per year for extraction of metal bristles and to repair the internal damage to the body tissue. This does not include the more common issue of a bristle in the tongue, lips or soft mouth tissue. The problem has been so prevalent that the CDC issued a warning back in 2012
The Associated Press published an article May 9, 2013 Seattle Times, regarding a young man in Seattle, Washington:
“After nearly two weeks of cramping and vomiting a Mountlake Terrace teenager finally learned what caused his illness: Swallowing a bristle from a wire grill brush.
Sixteen-year-old Tristin Beck tells Seattle Times he must have swallowed the bristle when he ate a piece of chicken during a barbeque.
His mom says that as his symptoms worsened, doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital ran “about a million tests.” Finally, on Sunday night they performed an exploratory surgery and found the tiny strand of wire stuck inside Beck’s small intestine.”
There are alternatives to metal wire grill brushes. Wooden grill scrapers are excellent grill cleaning tools. These wooden grill scrapers are non-abrasive and offer a clean and natural alternative to the wire filament. Made of solid oak, they will remove charred debris from straight rail grill grates and customize to your grill. Additionally, Woody brand grill scrapers are manufactured in the USA. Wood scrapers will not harm porcelain, ceramic, stainless, or cast metal grates and they come in various lengths to fit your grill cleaning needs.
A wood scraper should be used after the cooking of the food when the grill temperature is high. This will allows the wood to burn in and conform to the shape of the grates. Wooden scrapers use a burnishing process rather than an abrasive action, therefore extending the life of the grates. The charred debris that accumulates on the end of the scraper can be removed with a little mineral oil and a rag.
Wooden scrapers are easily maintained by wiping with mineral oil to extend the life of the tool. Additionally, there are no wires to be lost from the wooden scrapers to be found later in the food.
These grill scrapers are relatively new to the market, but can be found at www.zingerhardware.com.
Additional Updated Information: On June 8th, 2014, a Texas woman in Lake Conroe ended up in an emergency room with a wire grill brush bristle caught in her throat. Watch the story and learn about safe alternative on Fox News 9.