Wire grill brush bristle sends woman to ER - KMSP-TV

Wire grill brush bristle sends woman to ER

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Flickr/Creative Commons/Isaac Wedin Flickr/Creative Commons/Isaac Wedin
NORTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

This may come as a surprise, but one of the most popular tools used for cleaning grills may actually pose a danger because the bristles of those wire brushes can get stuck on grate gunk and end up in food.

One weekend meal recently sent Karen Dunlap to the hospital.

"It was really the best grilled chicken he'd ever made," she recalled. "I was like, 'Wow, this is so good!' Then, on like the third bite, I bit down on something kind of just hard, and I thought at first it was maybe a charred piece of the chicken or something. As I swallowed it, I realized, 'No. This is not something I should be swallowing."

She went to an emergency room and doctors found a grill brush wire lodged in her throat.

"The pain was radiating down and up," Dunlap recalled. "Every time I swallowed it got worse."

As it turns out, it's not an isolated incident. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention issued a report in 2012 and tracked 6 separate incidents where grill brush bristle were swallowed in less than one year at just one hospital on the east coast. In fact, the agency even issued a warning that said: "Before cooking, persons should examine the grill surface carefully for the presence of bristles."

Yet, there are alternatives. At Frattallone's Ace Hardware in St. Louis Park, Jim Lee has one brush that's actually a stainless steel scrubbing pad.

"Tougher than a Brillo Pad, but a bristle-free scrub brush, they call it," Lee explained.

Wood also works.

"I'll come out, fire up the heat, get the grates nice and hot so all that charred debris loosens up a bit," Nathan Thompson explained.

Thompson and his brothers make grill cleaning paddles they call "the Great Scrape." It has no bristles, and will mold itself to the shape of the grill.

"You don't ever have to worry about debris falling off, sticking to the grates, sticking to the food that you throw on there," Thompson assured.

Some have also suggested the home remedy of using an onion on the end of a fork to clean off the grill grate, but Fox 9 News will put that suggestion to the test on Fox 9 News @ 10 and found it wasn't quite as good at getting rid of the gunk.

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