ABC News is reporting that one Rhode Island Hospital has seen a rash of injuries associated with ingested pieces of wire from grill cleaning brushes. Reportedly, between 2011 and 2012, six people sought emergency care for wire bristles stuck in their throats, intestines or stomachs after consuming food cooked on an outdoor grill. It is believed that these bristles broke off while the grill was being cleaned and got stuck in food which was prepared on the grill. When compared to the number of people who use grill brushes regularly, the injuries seem infrequent, but with six cases reported at just one hospital, concerns over the safety of grill brushes are mounting.
Review of Grill Brush Safety
In May, Senator Charles Schumer asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the FDA to review the safety of grill brushes after two men in Washington and New Jersey reportedly required surgery after eating food in which a wire bristle was stuck. The CPSC found nine reports of injuries in people who reportedly swallowed grill bristles since 2007, and an additional 28 injuries related to grill brushes; eight of these reports were lodged by consumers who claimed that a bristle got stuck in their food or on their grill. The CPSC announced that it would look at the reports to determine if any harmful defect is present among grill brushes or if a specific product is putting consumers at an unreasonable risk of injury.
Injuries Stemming from Swallowed Grill Brush Bristles
Ingesting wire bristles from grill brushes can pose a risk of organ perforation and infection. Should a swallowed grill brush bristle puncture the intestines, bacteria can leak into the bloodstream, increasing the individual’s chances of infection. Bristles, once lodged in the body, can also perforate other organs. One woman reportedly ingested a bristle which migrated through her stomach and punctured her liver. In these cases, surgery, which presents its own complications, may be required to remove the bristles. The aforementioned New Jersey man reportedly needed surgery to remove a one-and-a-half inch metal wire from his body and to repair a hole in his large intestine; the man from Washington required surgery to remove a half-foot of his small intestine.