It’s summertime, and practically everyone is pulling out their grills and BBQs for some summer fun. Most of us—if we’re sanitary—take the time to intricately clean off our grills from last year’s recipes, scrubbing off the dust and grime that collected during the idle winter months. But did you ever stop to think that maybe you’re using cleaning supplies on your barbecues that have sent people to the hospital and nearly killed them?
How is that possible, you ask?
Well, the Fiore family could tell you!
The Deadly Grill
One summer, the Fiore family was enjoying the beautiful summer weather when they decided to light up their backyard grill and cook up some classic burgers for dinner. Mere seconds after taking a bite of his first burger, however, the Fiore’s six-year-old son, Anthony, immediately became violently ill(1). The family couldn’t tell what was wrong with Anthony, but rushed to the hospital for a terrifying night.
“We knew something was wrong and he was in extreme pain because he was crying,” Anthony’s mother, Naida, told the press.
“It felt like a needle,” Anthony told the Canadian Broadcasting Situation.
“From the time we had dinner to the time he had surgery, it was twelve hours later, because our journey started at the local hospital, and then we were transported to SickKids,” Nadia said (1).
The surgeons at SickKids were able to successfully dislodge a metal wire bristle from a barbecue grill cleaning brush from Anthony’s throat (3). Surgeons explained to the Fiores that encountering patients with these sorts of bristles lodged in their throats was not at all uncommon, and that the situation had a great likelihood of being fatal. This is because doctors don’t have a specific method for removing unwanted objects from someone’s throat once swallowed.(1). After removing the metal wire from Anthony’s throat, the doctors continued to monitor his injury to ensure he was safe from an infection, which could easily be caused by bacteria found on the wire bristle.
According to Dr. Aziz Benbrahim, if one ends up swallowing a piece of metal like that without getting it quickly removed, then, “It makes a hole in the intestine that could be life-threatening. We had a patient who had it in there for two weeks and he had severe complications and a bigger surgery” (1). Anthony was lucky to come away with such minor issues.
The Fiore family haven’t barbecued anything on their grill since Anthony’s incident, and Nadia admits that her son is terrified to eat any food that comes off a grill (2). Nadia deliberately went public with her son’s incident, the brushes that caused his injury, and most of the details of Anthony’s hospitalization in the hopes that other families would become aware of the issue in order to avoid the same thing happening to them or their children (1).
“I hope to have these brushes removed from the shelves and have them banned,” Nadia said (2).
Better Safe than Sorry!
While experts suggest replacing your grill cleaning brushes the moment they appear worn or matted, and to only use a brush that has wires fastened around metal and not wooden or plastic brushes, stories of people swallowing metal bristles have been populating headlines for as long as these brushes have existed (1).
The safest method of avoiding such incidents is to avoid using metal brushes altogether (3). Find a new way to clean your grill—such as lighting it and letting it sit for several minutes with the lid closed, then using a bunched-up piece of aluminum foil to scrub it (1). Surgeons urge you to throw out your metal brushes and find new means to clean (3).
Better safe than sorry.