Ont. man needed surgery after barbecue brush bristle pierced his tongue
While he and his wife were enjoying a meal from the grill, Jim Seguin of Wasaga Beach, Ont. got a bite of something the recipe didn’t call for.
"I thought it might have been a bone or something that was left over in the meat," Seguin told CTV Barrie.
Instead, what Seguin had bitten into was a wire barbecue brush bristle which had come loose on the grill, and made its way onto his food. While eating, the bristle pierced his tongue and got stuck there.
Seguin says that he immediately had difficulty when trying to talk or swallow, but had hoped that the issue would take care of itself with time.
“I would just try and hope that it would go away,” Seguin said. “I was just trying to persuade myself that it was gonna pass but it was just getting worse and worse."
Five days later, his wife Robin convinced him to go to the hospital, where the bristle was eventually discovered and surgically removed.
"He was just lucky he got it stuck in his tongue,” Robin Seguin said. “It could have been more serious than that."
While barbecue brushes cause numerous hospitalizations every year, many stores still sell them.
Health Canada is well aware of the problem, but says that after completing multiple risk assessments, they have been unable to determine a particular brand or material to ban from store shelves.
Health Canada first investigated the dangers of wire brushes back in 2017, finding at least 28 incidents of injury in Canada since 2004 that were a result of accidental ingestion of a wire bristle.
Earlier this year, Health Canada commissioned the Standards Council of Canada to develop barbeque brush safety standards, alongside the Retail Council of Canada.
The guidelines, which are still at least a year away, will be voluntary in nature. In the meantime, Health Canada says they will continue to monitor the issue and take action if necessary.
Jason Stavroff, the manager of TA Appliances and Barbecues in Barrie, says that with repeated use, wire brushes will always start to lose their bristles.
“Problem is, as they tend to move back and forth, they get loose, and then they will come out eventually,” Stavroff said. “A good quality product, that won’t happen as much.”
Health Canada recommends regularly replacing barbecue brushes, throwing them out at the first signs of damage or loose bristles.
Metal-free alternatives like wood, plastic or stone brushes are also gaining popularity.
With a report from CTV Barrie’s Krista Sharpe