One Pediatric Doctor’s Viral Video Warns Parents of This Grill Danger

A 4-year-old boy's trip to the ER after ingesting metal wire from a grill brush has gone viral, sparking concern among parents. Learn about the potential dangers and safe alternatives for cleaning your grill.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Updated March 1, 2023
person cleaning a barbecue grill with a wire brush
Image: elbud | Shutterstock

During warmer temps, cooking goes alfresco as families and friends gather around the grill. While parents may be focused on keeping their kids safe around the hot grill, a new viral video is also making them reconsider what goes on the grill.

Meghan Martin — a Florida pediatric ER doctor also known as @Beachgem10 on TikTok — recently shared a video warning parents about the dangers of wire grill brushes after a one of the “most interesting cases she’s ever encountered.”

Martin talks about a 4-year-old boy who ate a hamburger that was prepared on a grill that had been cleaned with a wire brush. He complained of intense ear pain, and after a visit to the ER and an ear, nose, and throat specialist, doctors could not figure out the cause. Ten days after his initial ER visit, the boy came down with a fever, and doctors did a more extensive CAT scan. That’s when they discovered a two-centimeter wire lodged in his peritonsillar tissues and an abscess that had started to develop around it.

Doctors discovered that the boy had swallowed metal wires from a grill brush, which had gotten lodged in the hamburger meat he ate at the barbecue. The surgeons removed the wire and drained the abscess, and thankfully the boy’s pain was resolved.

This story serves as a cautionary tale, warning parents not to clean their grills with wire brushes. According to the pediatric ER doctor, the wires can become lodged in soft tissues of the throat, cause bowel obstructions, and perforations in the abdomen if accidentally swallowed. Additionally, a little over two weeks ago, pieces of wire brush were found in mashed potatoes served with students’ lunches at a school in New Mexico.

So what should parents do instead of using a wire grill brush? There are several alternatives, including using a nylon bristle brush or a pumice stone. Additionally, some grill manufacturers offer special grill-cleaning tools that do not use wire bristles.

The next time you clean your grill, consider opting for these safer alternatives. And if your child complains of intense pain after eating at a backyard barbecue, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. As this story shows, sometimes the cause of the pain may not be immediately apparent, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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