We in the media love to warn readers about the hazards that can spoil a Fourth of July celebration. Today’s holiday is ripe for mishaps large and small, from sunburns to car crashes, from food poisoning to fireworks-related injuries.
And now there’s a new worry to add to your list: The CDC Tuesday issued a report alerting consumers and physicians to the dangers of accidentally swallowing a wire bristle when you eat grilled food.The CDC report documents six recent cases in which adults (five men, one woman, ages 31 to 64) were treated in emergency departments after having ingested wire bristles that apparently had become stuck to or embedded in meat cooked on an outdoor grill. Apparently the bristles had broken off wire brushes used to clean such grills.
In three instances, bristles got stuck in the throat or the base of the tongue, causing patients pain when they swallowed. Other bristles traveled farther, two getting stuck in the greater omentum (a fold in the lining that covers the stomach) and another in the colon. The one in the colon was removed via colonoscopy; the others required surgery.
The report notes that these six incidents, which occurred at one Rhode Island hospital system between March 2011 and June 2012, are in addition to six earlier cases in the same hospitals between July 2009 and November 2010.
A bit of perspective: The report points out that while ingestion of foreign objects (mostly by children) accounted for abut 80,000 visits to emergency departments in 2010, less than one percent of those incidents involved serious injury.
Alas, the hospital reports didn’t contain enough information to determine which kinds of grill brushes are most likely to lose their bristles or which kinds of meat are most prone to harbor wire bristles. So the CDC just wants us to be aware of the potential danger and to keep our eyes out for wires in our food.