There is a risk that bristles come off wire brushes used to clean barbecue grills, get stuck to food, then swallowed. (iStock)

Bristle brushes pose health risk, government seeks safety standard

As the weather warms up, Canadians love to get out the barbecue and cook outdoors, but the government is warning them to check the metal brushes they use to clean the grill. It is also seeking a voluntary safety standard for such brushes.

There have been cases where wire bristles have come loose, stuck to food, and after being swallowed become lodged in people’s digestive tract, presenting a serious health problem.

Health Canada warns people to inspect their wire brushes for loose bristles. (Vera-Lynn Kubineccbc)

Replace old brushes, warns Health Canada

Canada’s health department is warning people to inspect their brushes, their grills and barbecued food for bristles that have come loose. They are also advised to stop using any brush with loose bristles and to regularly replace these types of brushes.

The Standards Council of Canada has been asked to develop a voluntary safety standard for barbecue brushes including metal bristle brushes. The standard will define safety criteria such as labelling and testing.

A public review of the draft standard is expected to start in a few months. The draft will be published on the CSA Group’s website for 60 days to allow for public review and comment.

In 2017, A wire bristle travelled through a patient’s stomach and perforated the small intestine. (Submitted to CBC by Dr. Leigh Bishop)

Wires can be swallowed and lodge in the body

In 2017, a surgeon who had treated patients injured by swallowing wire bristles said the metal brushes should be taken off the market.That summer, there were 40 cases related to barbecue brush bristles reported to Health Canada. In those cases, 16 bristles were found in the mouth, 15 in the throat, one in the esophagus and one in the intestine. One person was treated for a perforated small bowel.

With files from CBC.

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