5 On Your Side

Beware the grill brush: Loose bristles can lodge in food

Posted August 6, 2014 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2014 5:37 p.m. EDT

When was the last time you took a close look at your grill-cleaning brush?

You may find a problem that 5 On Your Side has warned you about before, but it continues to happen – the bristles come loose and get into your food.

It happened to a Raleigh man who hopes his story will make you check your brush.

Rodney Wright had just about finished his meal when a bristle lodged in his tongue.

“It was just like a sharp pin pushing into the side of your neck,” he said. “It just wedged. I knew something was wrong.”

An X-ray of his tongue showed the definitive line of the bristle.

“It doesn't look that big,” Wright said. “But I'll tell you what, when it's in your throat, yeah, it feels like a truck."

Every time he swallowed, he felt the "pin."

“Do you know how many times you swallow during the course of a day?” he said. “It was not a fun experience."

By the time Wright got to a hospital, part of the bristle broke off. The other part, which he no longer feels, is still there.

"The downside of that, it's stainless steel, so it's not going to rust away,” he said.

His is one of many similar cases across the country that have been documented online by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a Washington woman who almost died in June after a wire punctured her intestine.

The CDC has issued a warning for ER doctors to be on the lookout.

Check your brush regularly and toss it if there are any damaged or loose bristles. Don’t use grill brushes until they fall apart.

Also wipe down your grilling surface before cooking on it.

Wright's brush was worn, and the bristles were loose.

“I just kind of hope this serves as a warning to folks,” he said. “If you do anything, look at the brush. If it looks anything like that, put it in the big round can (and) be done with it."

If you are a guest at a barbecue, politely warn the host and chef of the potential dangers.