Barbecues may get to mind joy in the sun, but your famous summer play can also come with a difficult side effect: wire grill brush hairs installed inside your food.

In May, a Wisconsin guy made headlines after admitting he had accidentally eaten a hair from a wire grill meeting that had become stuck to the grill grate and finished up in his steak. After growing stomach pain and fever, Wayne Ramcheck went to the hospital, where doctors found a one-inch-long grill bristle that had shot through the flank of his intestine. Ramcheck had to have the hair surgically released, and it took him seven weeks to heal.

He’s not alone: Every summer, stories character of individuals who have medical troubles after accidentally ingesting a wire grill brush hair. A case report issued by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) last year traced the dangers associated with brill meetings, calling bristle ingestion a “public health crisis.”

So, should you bypass using wire grill meetings or eating food from grills washed with them? Here’s what ER physicians and a grilling specialist had to say.

How Common Are Grill Brush Damages?

It’s hard to know how many individuals have been damaged by wire grill brushes, but one study calculated that it sends more than 130 individuals to the crisis room each year. In other terms, it’s pretty infrequent but it occurs enough.

“I have not seen this, but I have coworkers who have,” Ali Jamehdor, DO, an emergency treatment physician and medical superintendent of the Weingart Foundation Emergency Department at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, told Health.

What Can Occur If You Down a Bristle?

Wire grill meetings usually injure individuals after the bristles accidentally end up on the grill. “Any moment you brush the grill with metal, a part of it can end up on the grill,” Jamehdor displayed. “If you put a piece of meat on top of that area, the wire strand can evolve ingrained in your food.”

These hairs are usually tiny, making it slightly likely that you’ll see if you eat one, Eric Adkins, MD, a crisis medicine doctor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Health.

Once you eat a hair, it can end up installed in any part of your digestive tract. According to the ACS account, the most typical injuries resulting from wire brush bristle ingestion affect the oral pit (inside of the mouth) and oropharynx, which is the central part of the throat, behind the mouth. But more agonizing wounds like intestinal perforations can also happen.

“If the bristle pierces via the intestinal lining and can get via the other side of the intestine, you’ve completed a small space for the bacteria and ranges in your gut to seep out,” Adkins said. That can lead to a life-threatening infection called peritonitis.

This is an emergency that “absolutely needs surgery,” Jamehdor said. “It’s a terrible wound.”

“If care is delayed, it can be catastrophic,” counted Adkins.

Is It Better to Avoid Washing Your Grill?

Not washing your grill after operating it isn’t the answer. Paul Sidoriak, founder of the grilling formulae and guides website Grilling Montana, that you should clean your grill before every use. The explanation? Security. 

“We wash our pools and pans after every use so that leftover foods don’t make us sick, and the same cleaning standards should be met for your grill,” he declared. Leftover food, oils, and somewhat burned bits that cling to the grill “will fast become rancid,” Sidoriak said.

How Can You Safely Wash Your Grill?

Jamehdor means using grill wipes or funding in a grill brush that doesn’t contain hairs to cleanse your grill. “They have ones that have a leech or towelette material that can be rubbed over the grill,” he stated. “There are no metallic parts or components.”

Ceramic rocks and burlap cloths may also be useful, particularly if you use them when you’re done cooking and the grill is still warm, Adkins stated.

If a wire grill brush is all you have, Sidoriak suggests testing this hack: Wash the grill with your wire brush, then create a ball of aluminum foil about the length of your fist and use that to create a second pass over your grill’s grates. ”Pay close watch to any stuck-on food or irregular grill grate covers,” he said. “If a wire brush is likely to lose a bristle, that’s where it will happen.”

This second pass over your grates with the ball of foil “should be sufficiently to remove just about anything stuck to it,” Sidoriak displayed. It’s also a good idea to near inspect your grill for wire bristles before using it, according to Adkins.

Still, Adkins recommends washing your grill with non-metal forms if you can. “There are options to a wire meeting if you’re looking for top safety,” he said.

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