Summer Grilling Danger
When you’re barbecuing this summer, watch out for loose wire bristles on the brush you use to clean your grill. If a bristle drops off the brush and gets stuck on your food, you could end up swallowing it and injure your mouth or throat. Doctors at the University of Missouri have published a study of what can happen if you swallow a stray bristle – it could get stuck in your esophagus, stomach or intestine and cause serious internal damage. Anyone who develops swallowing problems or persistent pain after eating grilled food should see a doctor right away, or go to the nearest emergency room and explain their concern. If you’re in charge of the grill, be sure to check your wire brush carefully for loose bristles and throw it out if the wood or other handle material isn’t holding the wires well. And when you serve up your burgers, make sure none of them have picked up any stray bristles. For safety’s sake, the Missouri team suggests switching from a wire to a nylon brush to clean your grill.
My take? By all means, watch out for those wire bristles, but they’re not the only health threat barbecuing presents. There’s also the potentially carcinogenic smoke produced when you grill hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken over charcoal. Switching from charcoal to a gas or electric grill can eliminate the smoke hazard. If you do use charcoal, avoid using lighting fluid or self-lighting packages of charcoal briquettes – both add residues from toxic chemicals to food. Then there are heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that are formed when meats are cooked at very high temperatures until they char. There is evidence indicating HCAs are carcinogenic. On the positive side of the barbecue, grilling can help persuade your family to eat more vegetables if you marinate them and cook them on the grill. You don’t have to worry about HCAs because they don’t form on vegetables. Use onions, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, red and green peppers and eggplant slices. Thread them on a skewer and let them sizzle on the grill until they’re tender and just begin to brown.
T.P. Baugh et al, “Epidemiology of Wire-Bristle Grill Brush Injury in the United States, 2002-2014.” Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, March 1, 2016, doi: 10.1177/0194599815627794
Also in this week’s bulletin:
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