Grill Safely This BBQ Season

With BBQ season upon us, the Standards Council of Canada is questioning the safety of the instruments we use to clean our BBQs; namely, wire-bristled brushes. The agency in charge of establishing Canadian standards is warning Canadians about the safety of wire-bristled BBQ brushes after several reports of people accidentally ingesting wire bristles from these brushes.

It is common for these bristles to come loose when brushing the barbecue clean. These loose bristles have then been known to get stuck on food cooked on the grill. They can cause serious injury and even fatalities if ingested, often being lodged in people’s throats and leading to medical interventions including surgery.

In 2017, Health Canada investigated the safety of these wire-bristled brushes after at least nine people were injured due to swallowing wire bristles from barbecue brushes. The investigation found 28 reported incidents of injury from ingesting stray wire bristles since 2004. Despite these findings, Health Canada determined that recalls or regulations were not required at that time.

However, their perspective seems to have shifted since that report in December of last year. The Standards Council of Canada has issued a request for proposals, seeking an outside contractor to help with the development of a National Standard of Canada for barbecue brushes. The Retail Council of Canada and industry exports are also on board and have decided to consult on this issue as well. Both consultation processes will take into consideration the construction, testing, sale and use of these tools.


In the meantime, Health Canada does recommend that people regularly replace wire-bristled brushes, throwing them out when bristles become loose, or switch to wire-free alternatives. But with the risks so high, do these recommendations go far enough? Many Canadians are getting ready to enjoy meals prepared on grills that have been cleaned by wire-bristled brushes and are unaware of the risks they are taking. Safety warnings are not always headed or displayed prominently enough, leaving many people, including small children, exposed to these possibilities. Regulations must be established before we have a fatality on our hands

 At the end of the day, one thing remains clear – bristle detachment is not specific to one particular brand, so despite how good quality you believe your brush to be, the risk still exists. This grilling season, it would be prudent to switch to a non-wire barbecue brush.

 Happy and safe grilling to all!