Can those tiny wire bristles on your grill brush lead to an emergency room visit?

We saw a viral Facebook post where a Canadian man described having a grill brush bristle stuck in his throat. He wrote that after experiencing a constant sharp pain he went to the hospital. He then wrote that his local hospital had to actually refer him to another hospital who could perform the necessary surgery to remove it.

We decided to find out if this is truly something that can happen using information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and research done by the University of Missouri's School of Medicine.

We found there's actually been at least 1,600 incidents where an individual has had a bristle lodged in part of their body. The bristles get stuck on the grill and then on rare occasions, end up in your food.

These small wires can get stuck in anywhere from the throat, to tonsils, or if it passes thru those areas it can make it into your small intestines -- causing further damage.

The CDC says that the most common symptom is a sharp pain in either the throat or stomach areas. Not all hospitals are prepared for the surgery required to remove these small wires, so it is wise to take precautionary measures.

Dr. David Chang of the University of Missouri recommended these precautions while grilling:

  • Use caution when cleaning grills with wire-bristle brushes, examining brushes before each use and discarding if bristles are loose.
  • Inspect your grill’s cooking grates before cooking, or use alternative cleaning methods such as nylon-bristle brushes or balls of tin foil.
  • Inspect grilled food carefully after cooking to make sure bristles are not stuck to the food.


Dr. Chang, University of Missouri