They’re not intimidating to look at, but personal injury attorneys, the media, and even the New York Times are all warning people about the hidden dangers of barbecue grill brushes. Although we’re already well into September, there appear to be a few potential outdoor grilling opportunities left, so it’s worth taking a closer look at this new menace.

CNN referenced a 2015 Delaware case in which doctors operated on a 16-year-old girl after she complained of sharp pain in an area of her abdomen. To their surprise, they extracted a wire bristle from a grill brush. After the surgery, the girl recalled that she had been on vacation with her family the week before the pain started and eaten hamburgers from a grill that was cleaned with a wire brush. Doctors concluded that one of its bristles fell back onto the grill and stuck to a hamburger.

In 2016 the University of Missouri School of Medicine published a study on the growing number of grill brush injuries. Researchers estimated that emergency room staff treated nearly 1,700 grill brush injuries per year between 2002 and 2014. Although victims came from all age groups, 40% of all cases involved children under 18 and most injuries occurred in July. The latter finding is not especially surprising, as outdoor grilling is the highlight of most 4th of July celebrations.

Doctors stated in the CNN article that if a bristle is accidentally consumed and makes its way down to the intestine, it could pierce the intestine wall and cause an infection. Even if the bristle remains in the throat and neck area, it could penetrate the soft tissue and need to be removed surgically. Grill brush injuries may be less common than swallowing a chicken or fish bone, but they have the potential to be even more dangerous.

If you plan to use the grill during the final weeks of September, you can take these steps to reduce the risk of injury.

  • Examine wire-bristle grill brushes before using them to clean, and throw them away if bristles appear to be falling off.
  • Consider using other grill-cleaning methods, such as tin foil or brushes with nylon bristles.
  • Before eating or handling food to someone else, inspect grilled food to check for stuck-in bristles.

If you swallow a wire bristle and suffer a painful injury because the cook and/or grill owner did not inspect the grates before cooking or they cleaned it with an older, loose-bristled brush, then contact a New York personal injury attorney for help in seeking damages. This metal pieces may be small, but they can cause significant damage, so let an attorney help you protect your right to compensation. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, New York lawyer with over 35 years of experience. He has helped accident victims recover millions of dollars for their suffering, lost wages and medical bills over the years. If you were injured, call 718-514-6619 to set up a free in-person initial consultation.