Getting Ill from Your Grill

Safety First - The Cooper Firm

Grill Brushes Causing Illness

There is nothing like the smell of someone cooking on the grill to get you in the mood for summer, but along with the other dangers of grilling, another one can be added to the list- ingestion of fragments from wire brushes.

Tristin Beck of Mount Lake Terrace, Washington and Brittany Berg of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho both experienced significant pain and injury after eating food that had a small filament of a wire grill brush in it. Both teens ended up in the hospital and on the news after the incident. Apparently the incident gained enough response to have U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Consumer Reports join efforts to have the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission determine whether grill brushes are safe or if further warnings need to be displayed to consumers.

The two cases are not all that rare. Dr. David Grand, a radiologist with Rhode Island Hospital’s diagnostic imaging department and three other physicians from Brown University’s Warren Alpert School of Medicine reported 12 cases with grill brush wire ingestion from July 2009-June 2012, with three other cases found after that. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has identified 17 cases since 2007. They have not tied them to a certain brand or type of brush yet. Grand believes that this problem is happening far more often than the cases reported. People may pass the wire without problems or doctors may not make the connection with the abdominal pain that they are having.

Some of the effects of brush wire ingestion are punctures of soft tissues of the neck and perforation of the gastrointestinal tract. Most people either experience severe pain when swallowing or severe abdominal pain.

Grand suggests not cleaning the grill using the wire brush, and using a paper towel or wash cloth.

Source: The Safety Research and Strategies Inc., “The Ill of the Grill,” May 28, 2013.

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