Doctors Are Urging People to Throw Away Their Bristle BBQ Brushes


It is summertime and the barbecue season is upon us. In most households, there is a certain list of items that are used for the family barbecue. That list will invariably include barbecue bristle brushes. In Canada, surgeons are now warning the public of a danger that is not often known but is showing up on the radar more often. It seems as if those sharp wire bristles are coming off of the brushes and getting stuck in people’s throats. Doctors are having difficulty removing them.


When the sharp wires fall off of the brushes, they stick to the barbecue grill. When food is prepared, the wire transfers into the food and when swallowed, can get stuck in the person’s throat. Damage can occur to both the throat and the cartilage covering the windpipe, known as the epiglottis according to CBS news.

“It’s a needle in a haystack, but the haystack is your tongue,” said Dr. Ian Dempsey, an otolaryngologist in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. “It’s not an easy structure to go fishing around in, especially when it gets embedded in deeply.”

The Canadian Society of Otolaryngology addressed the issue recently. Various challenges are associated with removing these small pieces of wire from the throat. “None of us have figured out a surefire way to get rid of them, so we’d prefer just to prevent it from happening in the first place,” Dempsey said. One or two cases seem to be showing up at least weekly in Halifax.

Lisa Wadden, from Dartmouth, N.S. Was using a more expensive wire brush that was relatively new and she still had a piece of wire embedded in her throat. The bristle could not be removed, even though it was causing a lot of pain. Two attempts were unsuccessful and eventually, her otolaryngologist advised her to just wait it out until scar tissue formed.

A wire bristle had also been swallowed by Kevin Gallant and he didn’t even know about it. Stomach problems were taking place for a year and a half before the wire was found in his small intestines and removed. He also lost part of his intestine in the surgery.

The surgeons hope that by raising awareness of the danger of using barbecue brushes, they can get them removed from stores. Until that takes place, Dempsey recommends you simply throw away your wire brush and use crumpled up balls of tinfoil instead.

Various alternate products exist on the market as well. These include stone blocks and nylon brushes. You might also cover the brush with a cloth before scrubbing the grill.

More information can be seen in this video:



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