There are a lot of ingredients in the delicious burgers we love that could dissuade us from enjoying them: Beef, fat, calories, cholesterol…metal bristles?
A report published in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery has revealed that more than 1600 Americans have ended up in emergency rooms over the past decade after accidentally consuming metal bristles from their grilled meat. And the number is probably actually even greater, because it accounts for hospitals, but not urgent care or outpatient offices.
These bristles aren’t from the processing factories or the animals themselves. The culprit is the grill we cook our meat on. After grilling, when brushing down the grill with a metal brush, tiny bristles are left behind. The wire that we ingest is very dangerous, and can cause injuries to our mouth, throat, stomach and intestines.
"The issue is likely under-reported and thus underappreciated," study author Dr. C.W. David Chang, associate professor of clinical otolaryngology at the University of Missouri's School of Medicine, said in a journal news release. "Because of the uncommon nature of wire bristle injuries, people may not be as mindful about the dangers and implications. Awareness among emergency department physicians, radiologists and otolaryngologists is particularly important so that appropriate tests and examinations can be conducted," Chang added.
Of course, not cleaning our grill is not the answer. But changing how we clean it may be a good idea. “Cleaning a cold grill before cooking is key, take a moist cloth or paper towel and wipe the grates. The wet paper towel will pick up any grill brush bristles left behind. I would recommend using grill brushes that aren't wire, such as nylon or coil grill brushes,” says Solange Villeneuve, Senior Sous Chef at Google NYC.