GAH! I have a little charcoal grill that’s on my balcony that I love to endanger my whole apartment building by lighting. I want to grill dammit! Towering Inferno be damned. That, apparently, isn’t the only thing I should be worried about. Federal regulators (!) are looking into a quirky health hazard that sent a Tacoma, WA man to the hospital over the weekend.
Adam Wojtanowicz ate a grilled steak, as is any man’s given right, but ended up in surgery after he finished. You might be thinking bacteria or some hard piece of carbon got caught in his throat. You’d be wrong. Wojtanowicz ingested a metal bristle from the wire brush he used to clean his grill. Ever poke yourself in the finger with a single bristle? As painful as it gets. Now imagine that bendy sliver of steel puncturing holes in your digestive system, leaving your intestines and other organs looking like Swiss cheese. As I said, GAH!!!
Sadly Mr. Wojtanowicz (I have to admit all that keeps coming to mind is Stan Wojciehowicz, from Barney Miller) isn’t alone in this quirky injury. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has identified 17 cases like Wojtanowicz’s since 2007. That’s a small group, especially given the number of people who singe off their eyebrows or burn down the car port while grilling irresponsibly.
Derrick Williams is the vice president of the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association (count me among the many who had no idea such an organization existed.)
“You know if your brush is old with a lot of gunk on it and grease, you should be careful. You should try to change your brush at least twice a year,” said Williams.
He also suggests a scrub pad or high pressure hose to clean off gunk. That sounds like sound advice. Public health authorities haven’t identified any particular brand of brush that’s especially dangerous. The Consumer Products Safety Commission is looking into the phenomenon, after Senator Charles Schumer requested an inquiry in May. A spokesman for the agency said this issue hadn’t even been on their radar before Schumer brought it up.
Use a scrubby people. While that steel bristle brush does a great job, no one wants a perforated intestine.