Watch for wire bristles in your home-grilled burgers, researchers warn

grilled burgers

Photo: mphillips007/iStockphoto

Columbia, MO – Before you take a bite out of your next home-grilled burger, make sure it doesn’t have any wire bristles cooked in with the meat.

Wire-bristled grill brushes are commonly used to clean grill grates, but the bristles may come off during use. The bristles can then stick to food and be accidentally consumed.

A study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine estimates that between 2002 and 2014, nearly 1,700 incidents occurred in which individuals went to the emergency department for injuries stemming from inadvertently ingesting wire bristles from grill brushes. This figure doesn’t include medical treatment at urgent care facilities or other outpatient settings.

“The issue is likely under-reported and thus underappreciated,” the study’s lead author Dr. C.W. David Chang said in a press release. “Because of the uncommon nature of wire bristle injuries, people may not be as mindful about the dangers and implications.”

The most common injury was to the throat, followed by the mouth. The study authors offered grillers several recommendations to reduce the risk of injury from wire-bristle brushes:

  • Examine brushes before each use and discard those with loose bristles.
  • Inspect grill grates before cooking.
  • Use alternative cleaning methods.

The study was published April 4 in the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

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