The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released a Morbidity and Mortality report about ingestion of wire bristles from grill-cleaning brushes. (And here I just gave one to my brother-in-law for Christmas.)
A series of six cases from a single hospital system in Providence, Rhode Island is the focus of this report. A previous report details six cases that occurred from July 2009 to November 2010. This report focuses on six cases that occurred during March 2011 to June 2012.
The six patients range in age from 31 to 64 years. Five of the six were men. All of them had eaten food grilled outdoors, on grills that had been cleaned with commercially available wire grill-cleaning brushes. Injuries included puncture of soft tissues of the heck to perforation of the GI tract, requiring emergeny surgery.
The CDC states that emergency personnel must be aware of these cases in order to diagnose and wtreat cases that present to the emergency room. The public should also be aware of these cases. Foreign object ingestion caused about 80,000 emergency room visits in 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available. The vast majority of those cases occurred in children. These two reports suggest that ingestion of wire bristles from grill-cleaning brushes may be more common than previously suspected.
The CDC says there is no information on whether any specific type of grill brush is safer or less likely to lose bristles. The report did not state whether the newer type of brush, that is motorized, is more likely to lose bristles than the manual brush. The government also does not know if a specific type of grill rack may catch bristles more easily than other types. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reviewing grill-cleaning brush-related injury data to see if a product defect pattern emerges. That could prompt a recall, consumer warning, or some other regulatory action.