If you have a bristle BBQ brush on the go at home you may want to think twice! Canadian surgeons are telling people to throw them out because the bristles get caught in people’s throats and doctors don’t know how to get them out.


The thin wires can come off the brushes, attach to barbecue grills and cling to food without being noticed. This increases the likelihood of them being ingested and cause damage to the throat and epiglottis, which is the flap of cartilage that covers the opening of the windpipe when swallowing.

In fact, the issue of barbecue brush bristles has become so widespread that it came up at this year’s meeting of the Canadian Society of Otolaryngology. During a discussion on ingested foreign objects that are difficult to remove, several doctors that are ear, nose and throat surgeons spoke about their challenging surgeries and the fact that they have found no sure way to remove the bristles.


Currently there is no running number in Canada of how many cases have been seen but in Halifax, hospitals are reported to be seeing at least one or two cases each week with some of the issues being removed by emergency room physicians and others requiring surgery when the bristles have made their way further down the system.

People that have suffered an incident of bristle swallowing report sharp pains and unexplained stomach problems. In some cases the bristles have lodged into their system so deeply they have made it into the intestines.

It is important to remember there are also alternatives to wire bristle grill brushes, such as brushes with nylon bristles and wire mesh brushes.

BOTTOM LINE: There are lots of alternatives out there so why risk it with the old school bristle brushes?  Wire bristles are sharp, so the risk of them puncturing the digestive tract and causing an infection is an issue nobody wants to deal with.

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