By Kim Painter, USA TODAY
Each year around this time, health and safety experts warn grill enthusiasts that if they aren't careful enough, they might burn down their houses or give their guests food poisoning or an increased risk of cancer.
Here's something new to worry about: Swallowing broken bristles from wire grill-cleaning brushes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a warning today, just in time for the 4th of July.
Doctors at one Rhode Island hospital have counted a dozen cases of people injured by wayward bristles in grilled food -- suggesting it's not an uncommon occurrence, CDC says. In the most recent six cases, the CDC report says, "the severity of injury ranged from puncture of the soft tissues of the neck, causing severe pain on swallowing, to perforation of the gastrointestinal tract requiring emergent surgery."
Apparently, the bristles break off during cleaning, stick to the grill and then stick to burgers, steaks and other meats. The Consumer Products Safety Commission is looking into whether some brushes are defective, CDC says.
In any case, this seems to happen a lot: Other recent cases have been reported in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And home-tips guru Heloise already has issued prevention advice: "After cleaning your grill with a wire brush, wipe down the grill with a wet paper towel to make sure no wire pieces are left. Also, consider alternative cleaning tools. There are nylon scrubbers and grill 'stones' made of recycled materials that you can use instead of brushes."
You don't want your barbeque guests to end up like Brandon Dagres, 14, who showed up at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh with bristles stuck in his throat after he ate a grilled burger a few weeks ago. "It felt like somebody was like, poking me in the throat with something," the boy told WPXI in Pittsburgh. "They asked me how bad it hurt, like on a scale from 1-10, and it was like a 9."