Watch Out For Wire Bristles When Eating Your Next Burger

The next time you're eating a hamburger, you may want to take a closer look before you put it in your mouth. It might save you a visit to the emergency room.

A recent report published in the Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery journal stated that over 1,690 Americans were sent to the hospital for injuries associated with accidentally ingesting wire bristles from grilled meat products, as reported by Cosmopolitan.

In most cases, the bristles had accidentally become lodged within the food after having broken off the wire brushes frequently used to clean griddles and grills. Although mouths, tonsils, and throats were the most common parts of the body to be injured by unintentional bristle consumption, internal abdominal injures were also a concern.

Dr. C.W. David Chang, the principal author of the study, explained that most people do not inspect hamburgers and other grilled meats prior to eating them, which leads to bristle ingestion.

"The issue is likely under reported and thus underappreciated," Chang said.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised emergency room physicians to be aware of the possibility of internal injuries that may be caused by ingesting wire bristles, as reported by CBS News.

"Awareness among emergency department physicians, radiologists, and otolaryngologists is particularly important so that appropriate tests and examinations can be conducted," said Chang, as reported by Science Daily.

In the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from July 6, 2012, the CDC documented six cases of unintentional bristle ingestion that occurred at a hospital in Rhode Island. The resulting injuries ranged from a puncture in the neck tissue to perforation in the gastrointestinal tract.  

"It is important to carefully inspect the grill surface for any remaining wire bristles that may have separated from the grill brush and could penetrate into the grilled food prior to grilling," advised Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

He recommended using a paper towel or moist cloth instead of wire brushes in order to clean surfaces upon which meat is grilled.

Prior to eating a burger, look a bit closer before eating, take smaller bites, and do not hesitate to spit out something sharp.