Who would have thought the barbecueâthe great American pastimeâcould be big-time health detriment?
And Iâm not talking about eating too many hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages or even having one too many beverages; Iâm talking about the danger attached to the tools you use to clean it. Thereâs a new barbecue risk in town that you need to know about.
Risks of Using a Metal BBQ Brush
If you use a brush with metal bristles to clean your barbecue grill, I strongly urge you to stop; and Iâm not alone. A couple of weeks ago, Canadian surgeons started urging people to stop using them because there is no safe way to operate on people who have accidently swallowed these bristles.
You see, when you clean your grill before or after barbecuing food, the bristles can become lodged on the grill…and youâll never see them. Put some food on, and these bristles can quickly attach to the food and then have a really big chance of making their way into your mouth and down your throat. And when a bristle gets down there, any operation to fix it becomes very difficult, complex, and dangerous.
Damage From Loose BBQ Brush Bristles
When these bristles are swallowed, they can damage your throat and epiglottis, which is the piece of cartilage that covers the opening of your windpipe when you eat. The bristles can also move further down and into your digestive system, where they can become lodged in your intestine.
Whatâs scary is that you might not even notice youâve swallowed one. The symptoms can take over year to start, and pain may come and go. But if you do have damage to your epiglottis, throat, or small intestine, the damage can be substantial.
A Canadian surgeonâwho was involved in the decision to urge people to avoid these brushesâsaid that surgery is very difficult and quite risky. He said itâs like trying to remove an acupuncture needle stuck inside of a grapefruit without causing any damage to the fruit.
Now, this isnât always the case, but if it gets into certain areasâwhich is very possibleâit can cause some real difficulties. The area around your throat is sensitiveâespecially near the epiglottisâand so far there doesnât seem to be a sure-fire way of removing the bristles safely.
Barbecue Safety Tips
This has been a growing problem encountered by doctors, and the reality is likely amplified here in the United States where the population is10 times that of Canada and where we can BBQ year-round in many parts of the country.
So, if youâve got a metal-bristled BBQ brush, please get rid of it and opt for an alternative, such as a wood brush or scrub pad. Do some research; you can find some much safer alternatives that eliminate the risk of swallowing bristles and that are also chemical-free.
Source for Todayâs Article
vanKampen, S., âCanadian surgeons urge people to throw out bristle BBQ brushes,â CBC News, August 31, 2016; http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/barbecue-brushes-dangers-swallow-throat-wire-bristle-dempsey-1.3741578, last accessed September 9, 2016.