West Island woman gets metal BBQ brush bristle lodged in her throat

Health Canada is advising people pay closer attention to their wire barbecue brushes, after a West Island woman got a metal bristle stuck in her throat over the weekend.

Lisa Spour from Kirkland nearly had her Mother's Day barbecue ruined after she bit into a burger that had a stray metal bristle from a barbecue brush in it.

“One of the last bites of my burger, I swallowed and it kind of stuck, and I just thought I didn't chew my food properly,” Spour told CTV Montreal. “Every time I swallowed, I had a shooting pain in my throat.” 

Her son Mitch, who made the meal, said he didn't realize that a 1.5 centimetre bristle had broken away from the brush, and into her mother's burger.

“We put six burgers on the plate in the middle. If I had grabbed the one on the right instead of the left, it's in my throat,” he said.

Spour was taken to Lakeshore General Hospital, which identified the bristle thanks to a CT scan, but because the Lakeshore wasn't equipped to safely dislodge it, she was taken to the Montreal General Hospital to undergo the complicated surgery to have it removed.

The MUHC says these kinds of cases are on the rise, adding that even the tiniest of bristles can cause serious and permanent damage.

“Your throat, your esophagus, you can even aspirate it into your lungs. They become lodged there. Not only are they painful, they can cause serious infections locally and be very challenging to remove,” said Dr. Karen Kost.

On Thursday, Health Canada issued an advisory, urging you to do several things to ensure something like this doesn't happen to you:

• regularly inspect your brush for signs of damage; 
• inspect grills and barbecued food for loose bristles; 
• regularly replace your brush to help avoid problems associated with wear; and 
• stop using your brush if bristles come loose or stick to the grill.
• Report any incidents involving wire barbecue brushes to Health Canada and to the store that you purchased them from. 

Health Canada is also working with the Retail Council of Canada to commission the Standards Council of Canada to develop standards for wire brushes, with the goal of reducing the risk of injuries.

In the meantime, there are alternatives to wire brushes, including wooden bristle-free brushes, which Spour says her family is now using.