Health Canada asking people to inspect their metal bristle barbecue brush

As the weather warms, Health Canada is asking people to inspect their wire barbecue brushes when they get out their grills.

“It’s a good time to remind people of barbecue safety, especially around using wire cleaning brushes,” says Tracey Kennedy, product safety officer at Health Canada. “Over time they can lose their bristles, and if swallowed, can cause serious health problems.”

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The wire bristles can cling to food without being noticed and become lodged in the throat. Dr. Ian Dempsey, an ear, nose and throat doctor, told CBC News in 2016 the bristles can be hard to remove even with surgery.

Kennedy said that there are some simple steps to take to reduce the risks.

  • Always inspect your brush for signs of damage.
  • Check grills and barbecued food for loose bristles.
  • Replace your brush on a regular basis.
  • Stop using your brush if the bristles are coming loose or sticking to the grill.
  • Report any incidents involving wire barbecue brushes to Health Canada as well as to the store where you bought it.

Kennedy also suggested to check the barbecue is in good working order before firing it up.

“Do a spot check for blocked burners or metal tubes and damaged seals,” Kennedy said. “Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for usage and cleaning, and if you think there is a problem, consider having your barbecue serviced by a professional.”

Health Canada and the Retail Council of Canada have commissioned the Standards Council of Canada to voluntary safety standard for barbecue brushes, including metal bristle brushes. The standard will establish ways to reduce the risk that loose bristles will cause injuries to Canadians by defining safety criteria, such as labelling and testing, for these products.

A public review of the draft standard is on the Standards Council of Canada’s website until Aug. 24.

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