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Barbecue Brush Related Injuries Published: ()
Barbecue (BBQ) brush injuries continue to be a public health concern. This common household item can pose a health risk to individuals, as bristles can detach from the brush and remain on the grill. If left unnoticed, these bristles can then be transferred to food and be consumed. Although BBQ brush injuries are rare, they can result in serious complications.
The numbers below are an updated analysis of such injuries using the electronic Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (eCHIRPP) surveillance system. The original analyses appeared in the October 2017 issue of the Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention journal (Volume 37 No. 10).
21 emergency department visits
Incidents are still being detected. Between April 1, 2011 and June 14, 2019, there were 21 reported cases of unintentional injuries related to BBQ brushes, representing 1.92 cases/100,000 eCHIRPP records.
- 62% of injuries occurred in males
- 43% of the cases that presented to the emergency departments were admitted to the hospital
BBQ brush injuries don’t just happen in the summer, they happen throughout the year.
Respiratory and digestive tract
Most injuries involved a bristle imbedding into an individual’s respiratory or digestive tract. However, loose bristles can cause other types of injury too, such as those affecting the eye.
The actual number of individuals that have experienced BBQ brush injuries are unknown, as some might seek care at sites other than emergency departments or might not seek care at all.
Sample narratives of the injuries are listed below and are reported in the language of the patient’s own account of events. These include:
- Eating burger, found barbecue brush bristle in mouth, feels like one in throat.
- Il lavait (frottait) le barbecue avec une brosse a barbecue. Il a reçu quelque chose dans son oeil. La graine ou autre n'est jamais sortie de son oeil.
- Patient ingested some pins from the BBQ brush.
- Eating barbecue pork, bristle from brush used to clean barbecue got lodged at base of tongue and adenoids.
- Eating BBQ food; metal bristle from BBQ brush stuck on food; bristle stuck in esophagus.
Caution should be exercised when using BBQ brushes due to the potential health and safety risks associated with bristles detaching and adhering to grills or cooked food items. To minimize the risk of issues with your bristle barbecue brush, you should:
- regularly inspect your brush for signs of damage
- inspect grills and barbecued food for loose metal bristles
- regularly replace your brush to help avoid problems associated with wear
- stop using your brush if bristles come loose or stick to the grill
For more information on barbecue brush safety and recall updates, please visit Healthy Canadians.
In an effort to reduce the health risks associated with BBQ brushes, Health Canada and the Retail Council of Canada commissioned the Standards Council of Canada to develop new national voluntary safety standards for such products. A public review of the draft safety standard was conducted in the summer of 2019. All submitted comments are now being considered by the responsible committee.
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