The Choking Dangers of BBQ Brushes and How to Avoid Them

The Choking Dangers of BBQ Brushes and How to Avoid Them

A barbecue is a time for fun, and if it’s a regular part of your summer meals, simply good food. But it can also offer hidden dangers. Aside from bears jumping into your campsite to guzzle down those special mini sliders you just made before you can muster a muzzled, “what’s cookin’?”, at home, there could be a new threat.

The bristles in the wire brushes many use to keep their barbecues clean can actually pose a choking hazard.

Canada’s TV News is telling the story of a six-year old boy from the province of Ontario, who is one of the most recent victims.

The boy ate his dinner, cooked on the barbecue, and then complained to his mother, Nadia Cerelli, of a needle in his throat. He wasn’t able to swallow, and Cerelli took him to the nearest emergency room.


There, her son underwent surgery to remove the tiny wire bristle that had gotten stuck in his throat.

Is it a freak occurrence? While somewhat rare, it’s not entirely unheard of. According to a study done at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, wire brush injuries are a growing health concern in the United States.

Around 1,700 injuries from the brushes were reported in U.S emergency rooms since 2002, and this, experts say, could be an underestimate.

Here’s how it happens: when barbecue brushes get old and lose their strength, the bristles can pop out or break off.

The bristles can be so small, they are almost undetectable to the naked eye. But once they do, they sit on the grill and get into your food. And once they are swallowed by diners, in extreme cases it can cause the need for surgery to get the wiry pieces out.


The news comes amidst what seems to be growing list of dangers being associated with backyard barbecuing. Eating food with that tasty char that only comes from the bbq has been associated with cancer risks, as well as inhaling the smoke that comes off the grill.

Thankfully, using marinades to add flavor to your grilled food is said to greatly reduce the risk of ingesting these potentially deadly elements. And pre-cooking your meat before teaming up with the grill can reduce the fat drippings that increase smoke, and reduce cooking time, allowing the cook to breath more easily.

But what about those pesky brushes? Experts say replacing your old tools can reduce the chances of harm, as can testing your brush with pliers before using it every time you do.


To test the durability of your brush, simply pull on the bristles with a pair of pliers and see what happens.

If anything falls out with the pressure, it’s time to clean with something else.

Other ways to avoid wiry dangers include using nylon and stainless steel pads in place of brushes, and trying one of these cleaning stones in order to get the job done and avoid the problem altogether.

For a list of alternatives and some ideas to get you on a new bbq track, click here.

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