When most people think of backyard barbeque safety, they think of proper fire starting and maintenance and ensuring that all meat is completely cooked. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there is another, lesser known barbeque hazard that backyard enthusiasts must take into account.
Keeping your barbeque properly cleaned is important to keeping your food safe. But cleaning itself can be dangerous, if you use a substandard brush or fail to ensure that the barbeque surface is clear before you use it again.
This is because bristles from the wire brushes used for cleaning the grill surface can fall off. If they remain on the grill, they can then be attached to food and eaten. Once a metal bristle is inside the human body, it can cause extensive damage to the throat or intestines, or even death.
This past month, a group of doctors working out of Brown University’s Alpert School of Medicine reported that between March 2011 and June 2012, they had observed six cases of ingested bristles in their emergency room alone. All required serious, invasive surgeries.
For example, on man reported to the emergency room after eating steak from a backyard barbeque. After other testing, doctors administered a CT scan. The scan showed a wire bristle stuck through the wall of his small intestine. The patient needed surgery to remove the wire and repair the intestine.
Some patients are luckier. One of the six patients had a wire bristle inside his intestine which had not yet penetrated the intestinal wall. The bristle was successfully removed after an extensive colonoscopy, but the patient avoided surgery.
Three of the six patients had ingested wire bristles which never reached the stomach or intestines. The bristles instead became lodged in the patients’ throats. All three of these patients required laryngoscopy to remove the wires.
These results are not unusual. The same group of doctors at Brown had reported six cases of bristle ingestion in their emergency room between July 2009 and November 2010.
Damage from bristle ingestion can be extremely serious. The bristles are designed to be sharp, and can easily penetrate human flesh and organs. On top of that, the pieces which are swallowed are often small, meaning they are not detected on conventional scans and x-rays unless the physician knows what to look for. This means that bristles can remain in the body if the problem is not promptly diagnosed – and the longer they remain, the greater the damage.
Our attorneys advise backyard barequers to continue to ensure that the grill is properly cleaned. However, always use high-quality brushes, and check carefully to make sure that no bristles have remained before using the grill again. If you have difficulty swallowing or abdominal pain after eating at a backyard barbeque, be sure to mention the barbeque to your physician and raise the possibility of a bristle ingestion. And if you have suffered serious injury from eating a bristle, or had a bristle in your body remain undiagnosed for a long period, talk to an experienced attorney about your legal options.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago products liability lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.