CHICAGO — As people across the country fire up their grills for cookouts this Fourth of July, the American Medical Association (AMA) is urging anyone cooking on a grill to use caution when using a wire-bristle grill brush due to the potential health and safety risks associated with bristles that may break off and adhere to both the grill and cooked food.

“As the Fourth of July approaches and many of us will be cooking meals for friends and family on our grills, we want to be sure that anyone who cleans their grill with a wire-bristle brush is aware of the possibility that the bristles can break off and stick to the food being cooked. When ingested, wire bristles have been known to cause injury and in some cases lead to a surgical emergency. We urge everyone to take simple precautions to avoid injury and prevent a trip to the emergency department, including wiping the grill down after using it and inspecting it for wire bristles before cooking food,” said AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, M.D. “We wish everyone safe grilling and a healthy holiday!”

To help prevent injuries associated with wire-bristle grill brushes, the AMA adopted new policy at its Annual Meeting last month calling on the federal government to require warning labels on all wire-bristle grill brushes to inform consumers about the possibility of wire bristles breaking off and being accidentally ingested.

More than 1,600 emergency department visits occurred as a result of wire-bristle brush injuries between 2002 and 2014 — approximately 130 per year, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. The study notes that most of these injuries involved the mouth, throat, and tonsils, with some requiring surgery.

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.