Barbecue grill brushes: danger!

Barbecue grill brushes: danger!

Surgeons are raising their voices to warn barbecue lovers about the risk of ingesting metallic threads originating in the brushes used to clean the grills. The resulting health problems can be serious and even go so far as gastrointestinal perforation.

Several national media have broadcast the information, relaying the specialists’ warnings. According to the University of Missouri medical school, no less than 1,500 injuries related to the metal bristles of barbecue brushes have been reported since 2002. Dr. Maureen Allen, who practices in Nova Scotia, has stated on the CBC that cases of ingestion of these pieces of metal increased 60 per cent during the summer of 2016, although she does not know the cause of the increase. She says that her colleagues in the emergency departments of Halifax hospitals have similar data.

After sticking to the cooking grill and being transferred to the food, the metallic fibres can become lodged in the tongue, esophagus or digestive system of the individual. Only surgeons can then intervene, but the operation is delicate and not always successful. The fact that the bristles are almost invisible complicates the task, because once ingested they become very difficult to remove.

“The best thing is to steer clear of them.” – Dr. Ian Dempsey

The solutions, say the surgeons, would be simply to remove barbecue brushes with metallic bristles from the market. According to Radio-Canada, the bristles have become such a problem that the Canadian Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery talked about this issue at its annual general meeting in 2016. “No-one has found a safe, effective method for removing them from a patient’s body. It’s better to steer clear of them,” said specialist Dr. Ian Dempsey on Radio-Canada.

No cases listed in the Laurentians

Nothing of this nature has been registered in the Laurentians, according to Myriam Sabourin, information agent for the CISSS (Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux– health and social services centre). “It is not, as a result, an issue about which our public health officials are concerned,” she states. Health Canada, however, recommends examining the brush prior to every use, particularly if it is of lesser quality, and replacing it if needed. Sleep quiet brave people, services watch out!


There are alternative solutions for safely cleaning the cooking surface. There are brushes with abrasive nylon bristles, and brushes made of wood such as The Great Scrape, which you can obtain online and which shapes itself perfectly to the grill. Some barbecue pros recommend cutting an onion in two and sticking a fork into it so it can be used as a brush. The most recent entry into the field, the Cookina cooking sheet, is an excellent alternative to aluminum foil. Reversible, 100 per cent non-stick, reusable and easy to clean, this cooking sheet is ideal for grilling marinated foods. Good barbecues!

Guillaume Vincent277 Posts

Rédacteur et journaliste de profession, Guillaume Vincent a fait ses armes au sein de l’agence QMI. Il s’est joint au Tremblant Express en 2014. Promu en 2017, il y assume depuis le rôle de rédacteur en chef et directeur de la publication. / A writer and photojournalist by profession, Guillaume Vincent won his stripes in the QMI agency. He joined Tremblant Express in 2014. Promoted in 2017, he has been editor-in-chief and co-publisher since then.


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