Updated 30 August 2018

The hidden danger of your wire-bristle braai grill cleaner

When accidentally ingested, wire bristles can cause injury and even lead to a surgical emergency.

If you use a wire-bristle grill brush to clean your grill, beware.

Bristles can break off and stick to the grill and braaied food, posing a serious health risk, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

"When ingested, wire bristles have been known to cause injury and in some cases lead to a surgical emergency," AMA President Dr Barbara McAneny said in an association news release.

To avoid injury and a trip to the emergency room, always wipe down the grill after you use it and inspect it for wire bristles before, she advised.

Brushes should come with a warning 

At its annual meeting, the AMA called for federal officials to require a label on the brushes warning about the possibility of bristles breaking off and being accidentally ingested.

Between 2002 and 2014, there were more than 1 600 visits to US emergency departments due to wire-bristle brush injuries, or about 130 a year, according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.

Most of the injuries were to the mouth, throat and tonsils, and some patients required surgery. 

While there are no current statistics for South Africa, it is still best to take caution next time you clean your braai. 

Image credit: iStock