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Canadian surgeons urge people to throw out bristle BBQ brushes (cbc.ca)
853 points by curtis on Sept 1, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 339 comments

This is a real problem.

My wife had been having extreme stomach pain for months, multiple trips to the emergency room, gastroenterologist, nothing could be found. She described that she felt that there was a hole in her stomach, the doctors called it stress.

On her final ER visit (two months after the pain began), something showed up in the CT scan (the 3rd one). Embedded in her belly fat was a wire. Everything clicked and I realized we had had steak on the grill the day that the problems started. She went into surgery and had the grill brush wire removed.

The wire had poked a hole in her stomach, and somehow worked its way out through the abdominal muscles into her belly fat. We are grateful that it exited that way, instead of into another major organ.


Fuck this I'm done with brushes.

I've never ingested one, but I've spotted and removed bristles on my grills several times. I stopped using them awhile ago. It's only a matter of time before someone swallows one.

The more grill is heat, the higher chance wires come off the melting plastic. I've also noticed this before. Since then I was preheating the grill a bit, shut down the fire, clean up with the brush, heat and cook.

I'll probably go with the Argentinian circus people way of cleaning the grill starting from now.

I already do something similar, with a ball of aluminum foil soaked in water and tongs. I will switch to the "Argentinian circus people way" of doing it, and will call it that, and tell all my guests that's what it's called, forever.

I'm done with doctors. Stress? Give me a break.

That is not a very reasonable outburst. Stress does give similar symptoms to some people. The doctors had clearly tried according to best procedure, but it is a matter of luck whether something like a small bristle is visible in a cat scan. Regular x-ray, not possible.

And if the doctors make you go through dozens of cat scans, you'll probably make a noise about them making unnecessary expensive examinations.

I think that's a bit unfair. If they went to the point of two CT scans (which showed nothing), it's not like they were being dismissive. They were probably trying to give the best diagnosis they could with the evidence available.

I'm not one to typically experience much stress, but it sure sounds like a dubious explanation for the symptoms.

I'm sure we can all appreciate how hard it can be to diagnose an issue in a piece of modern technology like a car or a piece of software.

A doctor's job is diagnosing (often very vaguely described) problems in a living body, a structure which is vastly more complex than any technology we've ever produced, and they can't just shut it down and take it apart either.

It shouldn't surprise anybody that many diagnoses are going to be wrong. That doesn't mean they are useless. They just have to be right often enough so that your odds of finding a beneficial treatment for your ailment improve when you seek their aid. And I think that is the case.

Some doctors are downright dismissive and lazy, though (as with software developers). So try more than one doctor, I guess.

>Stress? Give me a break.

I think that's the point.

Abdominal pain is notoriously hard to diagnose. Always get a second opinion if it's serious.

Doctors seem to be unwilling to admit that they don't know something.

True enough. Doctors unafraid to admit not knowing something inevitably impress me the most (to the point of staying their patient even after moving to the other side of the city):

* A young GP who pulled out a medical book in front of me to consult it.

* My dentist who told me he’ll perform the extraction if I want him to, but that his colleague specializes in it and will do a better job.

I just saw this at my state fair. I think I'll be getting one now:


They have these at my local Costco. Been thinking about it for a while, but I decided to just make my own with an old piece of fence.

I have a nylon brush that works great, it's designed to be used when the grill is cold.

I use a metal scraper (no metal bristles) with extreme heat, plus a traditional root brush where the bristles are made of plant roots (as of old crowberry, nowadays commonly rice root). Root brush doesn't tolerate as much heat as metal bristles but more than nylon.

Glad your wife is ok. I dated a girl once who had a similar experience when she was younger. Her family thought she was complaining about nothing and eventually received treatment.

By the time it reached her belly fat, was the pain any less?

The pain transformed from "there's a hole in my stomach" to "I have a painful lump under my belly button". It was easy to miss, and initially the doctors were just like "Oh it's your belly button". But then one doctor took a closer look with the CT scan and BAM.

Isn't a metal wire highly visible in x-ray? How doctors miss that?

Also, aren't BBQ bristle brushes magnetic? Wouldn't a simple magnet over the spot have exacerbated the pain and triggered a closer look?

Not that you'd have known to use a magnet to test it, but now it's certainly something that could be considered on a checklist of cheap/free things to check before more expensive/time consuming/invasive procedures are initiated.

Bristles are brass (alloy of copper and zinc; corrosion resistant, food-safe), and not magnetic.

If they were magnetic, a CAT scan would rip it out I imagine

The only xray given were CT scans. How it was missed I don't know. It could have to do with the orientation of the wire.

Well, now I'm thoroughly terrified of BBQ.

You and me both. Yeesh!

A trick I learned from Argentinian circus people, who make amazing BBQ, is let the grill heat up and then cut an onion in half to rub on the grate. It imparts a nice flavor and cleans the grill very well.

Off topic but any other tricks you learned from Argentinian circus people? Or circus people in general?

There's one where you put six relatively small guys on motorcycles inside a spherical metal cage. They drive around in circles but can't for the life of them get any mobile phone signal while inside.

Good thing that, using a phone while driving sounds risky

Thanks, I spit out my coffee.

Our kids in a standard German school has one whole week devoted to learning circus tricks and acts. At the end of the week, they put on a show for the parents and the local community. Money raised from the ticket sales goes back to the school. The kids loved it, and so did the parents.

They did things like walking on glass, eating fire, trapeze and other crazy acts.

Sounds like an insurance nightmare.

My kid went to welding summer camp when he was 8. 12 kids, one instructor; they learnt welding, brazing, soldering, other stuff I don't know the English for. Everyone had a good time and made some amazing things. Nobody suggested there was anything to worry about, but then again those parents wouldn't have signed their kids up. But I never met German parent who were particularly paranoid.

German kids videos and books can be really good too, like the 'was ist was' series that, say, really shows you how internal combustion engines work. I say "can be" because there's a lot of crap there too.

Dallas international school currently has a circus program for elementary and high school students through lone star circus.

I remember welding in shop class in seventh grade in the US. Pretty fun actually. That was more than two decades ago though.

Germany seems to have a lot more "common sense" than the US. Have you seen some of their playgrounds?

Probably just fewer "lawyers" and not more "common sense"

Edit: Added quotes to lawyers because I really meant destroyers of freedom

They've got socialized medicine, so they don't need as much insurance.

Blowing fire as well?

Can't imagine that would be legal. The flame liquids are either toxic and mustn't be swallowed, or they're very high strength alcohol.

Also, you have a significant fire risk with blowing fire - a friend once set a pub counter ablaze...

I sometimes do fire breathing, alongside fire spinning. Pretty much everyone who breathes fire as a hobby or performs professionally uses high purity paraffin.

Alcohol is bad because it burns hot and gets you drunk while you're doing it (very bad) and doesn't make a very impressive flame in comparison.

But yes, it's very dangerous. I refuse to teach anyone who I ever remotely believe will try to shortcut the safety procedures that are designed to make it at least not kill you most of the time.

The short list of safety stuff looks something like this:

1. Don't wear synthetic clothing, especially not nylon or polyester. That stuff will melt if it burns. You're actually better off with bare skin, but really you should wear something that doesn't burn easily.

2. Use a sturdy bottle (won't break if you drop/throw it) with a self-closing valve. If something happens, this will let you ditch the bottle fast and free your hand up for more important things. Last thing you need in an emergency is for your fuel bottle to spill fuel everywhere.

3. Have another fire breather watching you with a fire blanket for safety. If something goes wrong, it's their job to more or less tackle you and smother the flames as fast as possible. And if something really goes sideways, it's their job to call 9-1-1.

4. Check constantly for wind direction, and definitely don't try anything if the wind is unsteady.

At my daughter's school, they had that project week, too. Easily the most important experience in grade school IMO. They put the liquid inside a tube with a non-return valve. Also, all-time adult supervision, clear instructions upfront and kids did not get the tubes until they needed it. Kids were 8/9 years old. Yes, you have a significant risk and I am very glad they took it to help the kids grow up to be responsible people who can take limited risks.

If your doing both fire-eating and fire-breathing in the same act, then it's important to do them strictly in that order.

As for toxicity, you can fire breathe with pharmaceutical grade paraffin(kerosene), if you accidentally swallow some, you'll just experience its laxative effects

There is also the possibility to use cornstarch, flour or other powders for fire breathing. This should be safe, you shouldn't inhale the powder though.

I did it once, when I was around 12 years old. It looks a little less cool than with fluids, but it was still an awesome experience.

For a little while my kid had a circus performer (Belgian not Argentinian) for a nanny. He was just a kid who needed some extra money. Turns out he was realy mountain unicyclng too, which I had not ever heard of before.

It turns out they make cute little unicycles for four year olds. Amazing! All he really learned was unicycling, biking, some inappropriate language in English, and general irresponsibility. All of which have served him well.

If you throw a balloon animal into a ceiling fan, it's pretty funny.

(When I was very young we had a family friend who was a clown, and we visited his house once. This is everything I learned.)

For added effect, put the fan on the floor and paint inside the balloon.

Then sell the carpet for hundreds!

Haha yes as I am a circus person but that is a topic for another day

I'll second this

The Argentinian trick is basically:

1. let the grill get hot 2. rub with something to clean old grit 3. rub again with a chunk of fat (from the meat) for flavor

The "something" in step #2 has varied over the years. Back in the day, my grandpa used to use old newspapers... which of course we know today it's not such a great idea, heh. Onions, half a potato, a corn stalk, even a chunk of brick will do the trick. You just want to make sure you don't have old chunks of stuff clinging from the grill.

> old newspapers... which of course we know today it's not such a great idea, heh

Why is it a bad idea? The newspaper thing is common in Oz, and a quick Google turned up nothing.

What mattashii said: newspaper ink has (or at least used to have) lots of lead. I'm not sure how bad it is, but I'd imagine that long-term you might want to avoid it. Specially when something as easy to find as a potato or a bunch of leaves will do the same job without the risk :)

> but I'd imagine that long-term you might want to avoid it.

It's safe now. People use it for compost all the time.

The real danger from a BBQ is smoke.

The whole point of barbecue is indirect cooking with smoke.

Unless y'all mean grilling when you say BBQ.

That's just one of the many words that have different meanings in different countries. We Australians take our barbecueing very seriously and it rarely involves indirect cooking. :-) The most common form of barbecueing here involves cooking on a flat hotplate over direct heat.

The tragic thing about this is that it prevents people in places like the northeastern US from realising that the phenomenon of real BBQ exists. I know that until met my wife at age 23, I had never even seen actual slow-cooked collagen-has-turned-to-gelatin BBQ.

This isn't an instance of the Scotsman fallacy, it is a genuine category error.

Exactly. I'm originally from Texas, where they have a pretty serious idea about what the label "BBQ" means. And it absolutely does not mean grilling burgers over charcoal.

I remember on one of those restaurant impossible/kitchen nightmare type shows where the restaurant was a BBQ place.

Host: do you know BBQ actually is?

Restaurant owner: the sauce?

Right. My wife grew up in Houston.

I noticed this difference when I moved in Australia a couple of years ago. My first guess would be that hot plates are safer than fires from a wild fire point of view (which are quite a concern in Australia), and this is now engrained in the culture. However, I could be wrong and it has always been like this. Any thoughts?

Then you Australians aren't actually barbecuing, are you? ;)

is this for real ? I've always meant grilling and assumed anyone else meant the same :(

EDIT: might be a linguistic issue, wikipedia has different meanings of BBQ in different languages.

Yea, if you hear "BBQ" and think "grilling", then you might be missing out on the phenomenon that is real southern BBQ, which is a significantly different culinary phenomenon.

Growing up in the northeast US, I didn't learn about the existence of BBQ until I was 23.

Sadly this was the case for me until Dinosaur BBQ made their way into the local scene.

Now I smoke my own pork shoulders, ribs and chicken. And its much cheaper this way :)

A former colleague of mine, a man in his seventies, told us a story from when he served in the Soviet army as a young man. He served with a guy who used to wipe his individual plate and utensils with the newspaper they got. Others warned him about the lead but he dismissed the warnings. After a while, he ended up with lead poisoning.

I don't think I heard how long it took for him to get it or how severe it was.

Could have been ammo related too.

Quite possible! I understand that they thought the lead in the newspaper ink was the culprit because nobody else in their unit did the same and nobody else got lead poisoning, but obviously, it could have been coincidental. I've tried researching just how much lead one could consume this way but never found anything conclusive.

I believe in the UK the old ink that came off on your hands was made from soot and old engine oil. That's why you see people in PG Wodehouse and Downton Abbey getting their newspapers ironed - so it doesn't rub off on your hands.

I would guess that the old-school lead type probably also had some bearing on that. Modern press plates are usually aluminum (or sometimes even polymers).

The ink in newspapers is often 'not good' to 'bad' for your health, which makes rubbing it onto your cookwares a slightly dubious choice.

That used to be true, these days most newspaper inks are soy based, so its probably safe.

Gotta say, nothing beats the smell of burning newspaper when you first start making a barbecue. I feel better about the ink being soy based now.

Not even bacon drops falling on the embers?

But metaphorically, do you want the ink of news running through your blood... Maybe!

My favorite vector for consuming the news!

Why use paper as a moderator? I go with direct ink IV, to cut out the middleman.

Ah, so this is why print is dying as a medium.

I heard if you eat enough you will start to lean to the left.

what do you do about rust? The chrome coating on my grill comes off and the iron underneath rusts. The wire bristle was the only thing working.

Yup, what everyone else said: rust is fine. At least it's preferable to chunks of chrome coating :)

Argentine grills are not coated. If you want to keep them from rusting, you just grease them a bit with the remains of the meat (you usually don't even need to do that) and clean them up next time around. If you are really concerned about the rust, you can always coat the grill with vegetable oil (just take a paper napkin, soak it in vegetable oil and lightly rub the grill with it.)

BTW, the biggest unrelated tip: when you are seasoning meat, use kosher salt instead of fine salt. It works much better!

I use a coarse sea salt that is a little larger than kosher salt. It works out better with fish and meat.

True, but is a lot more costly so you may want to save the fancy stuff for at-table seasoning instead of pre-prep!


Use Maldon you heathens

you "treat" the metal much like you would a cast iron skillet.

After using, clean the grill, rub a thin coat of oil (I use canola different oils provide different seal quantity) then heat to smoking point. Wipe down and repeat a few times. This will coat the metal.

Most importantly DON'T use detergents it'll ruin the seal

Not sure if you mean this, but the detergent thing is called a myth here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/the-truth-about-cast-iron...

Happy washing-upping!

It is always an after thought, you finish cooking and the grill is super hot from the charcoal. Its late at night, you want to eat and relax. By the time the grill cools, you are sound asleep.

Buy a grill with a cast-iron grate. Then, you season it with oil, just as you would a cast-iron pan/dutch oven.

Well there's your problem, iron is fine, it's the iron oxide you want to avoid.

Iron oxide isn't particularly bad for your health, either. Your steak is already filled with rusted iron. Your body is filled with rusted iron.

Chrome, on the other hand... that shit is nasty.

Actually trivalent chromium is an essential nutrient (trace amounts). Hexavalent chromium is the "bad" chromium. Chromium metal is not considered a health hazard.

Chromium salts (chromates) can cause allergic skin reactions.

Nice trick. I heard Argentinian circus people hate the tin foil rub method to clean a grate, but my question is this: why? Is it the thickness of the foil? The foilness? The lack of onion?

Please help.

Otherwise, if you have fatty meat, you just use a strip of fat in the same way. That's what I do, and I happen to be Argentinian :)

Hmm, I always do that, but now when I'm doing it I'll be thinking about Argentinian circus people. Definitely makes it better.

It's also the canonical method here in Guadalajara.

Same in Chihuahua, it would be interesting to know when and where it became a thing.

Another approach is to heat up the grill, then throw on some table salt + pour on a bit of white vinegar. Use a flat blade spatula to work it around, then lightly scrape it off.

It strips the hot plate back to metal (not joking).

So, no residue from previous meals is left.

Probably not be a good idea to do this on a hot plate coated with (say) teflon or similar. Did that once on a friends BBQ years ago, which stripped it back to the metal. Oops. Unsure what the coating was though. It definitely "wasn't there" any more afterwards. ;)

Same method was used (and probably still is) in Israel when I was growing up. I guess I'm going back to onions now :)

Yes.. There no 'al haesh' without that onion dipped in oil

Fijian here. I assumed that was a trick everyone knew.

Yeah, I'm in the US and I've yet to BBQ with someone that doesn't know this trick.

I'm in the US and I've yet to BBQ with anyone who does. This is the first I've ever heard of it.

I'm in Ireland. WTF is a BBQ?

Imagine you're boiling potatoes.

Get rid of the water. Replace the pot with a metal grill. Replace the potatoes with meat. Pretty much that.

Tip o' the hat to you, sonny!

Same and I real bbq quite frequently and know many people that do and have never heard word of this

OK, I think that covers all the possibilities.

Not quite. I've heard of it, but nobody I know has.

Nobody I know knows whether I know about it or not.

You should make a habit of sharing your knowledge

Same in Chile. My friends and family here in the US always question why I'm rubbing an onion on the grill.

I guess this is a Hispanic American thing? I'm from the North of Mexico and that's how we do it too.

Definitely a good plan (unless you're not planning to use it for months) is to clean the grill the next time you use it. That way you'll have good consistent heat and any bits that come free will burn up in the coals.

Onion is a good tip; will try that thanks!

We use bacon to grease the grate before using a steel brush. Maybe the chemicals in the onion do help, but substituting a steel brush for an onion seems rather curious.

i like to use a lime/lemon. figure the acidity may help kill off some bacteria with the acidity and the vapor once the grill is hot.

What kind of grilling are you doing where the grill grate doesn't get to at least 165 degrees F?

Sous-vide barbeque?

Those carny folk have tricks us ordinary people can only dream of.

Nice idea! I'll keep it in mind!

In behalf of the Argentinian circus people, I thank you.

"Kevin Gallant, of Summerside, P.E.I., had part of his small intestine removed after he swallowed a bristle from a barbecue brush.

"I was very ill, probably as close to death as you want to be," he said from his home in Summerside, P.E.I.

"The barbecue brush bristle had started to move, so it was trying to come through the wall of my small intestine. So I was told I was very fortunate that they found it, because it would have just pierced through the small intestine into one of my major organs until it found a spot that it would have just killed me."

He still uses a bristle brush, but inspects the barbecue thoroughly after using it."


Crazy, but also explains why they are so hard to get rid of.

Sounds like a Jerry Springer episode.

Baby you're bad for me but I need you!

"Coming up next BBQ Brush nearly killed him but he still wants her back. And forth."

I hate to admit that I saw Springer lived. Looks even more rigged than on TV. (If possible)

Why not? The brush cleans perfectly well and he's now aware of the risks. He'll probably inspect his food a lot more thoroughly too...

They have non-bristle brushes too now. If I almost died I'd probably never eat BBQ again

I said the same about fish...and I still eat fish.

Gotta get rid of that encrusted carbon and iron. Human bodies don't deal with those elements half as well as they do short steel spikes.

This issue is actually not isolated to just barbecues and barbecue brushes although the fact that it gets into your food does make it worse.

A few weeks ago my friend invited me to their high class HOA pool that had a sand beach. Wading around in about a foot of water I felt something pierce my foot when I took a step. When I pulled my foot out of the water to see what it was I could see it was a thin piece of metal and it had gone in all the way to my bone.

I concluded it probably came off a metal brush they use around the pool. Maybe something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Performance-Tool-W1148-Stainless-3-Pi...

That's when I realized that these types of metal brushes are a huge environmental hazard in general. They should probably be illegal in certain settings -- sand beaches being one of them.

I reached down to grab a piece of wood to place into my campfire years ago and felt this unbelievably jarring pain go through my thumb (considering how gently I had placed my hand down to grab the piece of wood, the level of pain was immense).

There was a very tiny piece of something stuck in my thumb, which I was able to remove but not able to inspect very closely as it was pitch black outside and I was working with a flashlight.

I wrote it off as most likely being a splinter of glass from somebody's smashed beer bottle that had gone straight through my skin.

Reading this, however... it was much more likely a metal bristle from somebody's cheap camping brush that they used to clean their camping grill.

ouch! I could actually feel your pain.

No joke.

Related: If you tenderize with a Jaccard-like tool, examine the teeth very closely before you cook your meat. I have had the blades break in half longitudinally where it still looked like a full blade, but had actually "delaminated" toward the end and left a 15mm chunk of pointed metal in my steak. It ended up in my gums.

I still use the broken blade set, but simply make sure it has all the parts before moving on. Nothing tenderizes quite like it in my experience. Had I swallowed that piece however it would have been a bad situation.

Pic: https://imgur.com/a/ZdWBg

"I love this tenderizer and highly recommend them, just look out for busted blades!"


If the blade can delaminate in that way, I would in no way recommend them.

I see and appreciate your point, and yeah, you might get a little dead, but they can turn a Walmart roast into a tender and delicious cut of meat with the right cooking strategy.

Like anything, it's a trade-off, and a good test of your evolutionary worthiness as a human. Pay attention to what you're doing or die.

Oh gosh. It almost makes you terrified of using any implements along those lines. Honestly, I would've never looked for a failure mode like that. You're exceedingly lucky.

I have a very distantly related story, although one that's much more benign (thankfully!). Years ago, there was a really nice grocery store in town (local chain) that would make fresh flour tortillas. Whenever we'd think about it, we'd usually stop by and buy a dozen or two. It ended for a few years when I was eating one of them and bit down into a washer that clearly had been pushed through some part of the machine such that it was slightly elongated, flattened, and very slightly sharp on one end. I was lucky in that I neither broke a tooth, swallowed it, or cut my gums; but you can imagine my surprise when I bit down and felt something lodge between my bottom molars. More so when I pulled it out and found a steel washer!

I still have that washer somewhere.

They eventually sold off their tortilla equipment, possibly also changing management. It's been upgraded in recent years with brand new machinery, and we started buying them occasionally, but I've since developed a slight paranoia whenever I eat food I haven't made myself. I'm a softer chewer now than I was in those days for that reason. :)

Lentils. Always inspect the darn thing for small, lentil-shaped, lentil-colored rocks.

Learned that one the hard way. Luckily (?), it just shattered the one filling I already had in a tooth.

It's interesting many countries such as the US, UK and NZ have banned rare earth magnets due to fear of people swallowing them. The data they used to back the banning included all products ingested, and vice wrote up an article here: http://www.vice.com/read/the-consumer-product-safety-commiss...

If a product is causing similar health risks, isn't it fair to apply the same ban to it too?

This is not really true. What the US banned were toys and novelty items based around easily-swallowable rare earth magnets. The ban is on marketing and packaging, not on magnets themselves.

Rare earth magnets are unsuitable to be marketed as toys? Then it makes sense that metal bristle scrubbers are unsuitable to be marketed for cleaning food-prep equipment.

Strong agree.

In the cases of product being banned for safety, one of the reasons it's generally due to is the potential of swallowing it and causing harm or choking being high enough that a simple warning isn't sufficient. E.g. Buckyballs (swallow two separate groups of those and you'll be lucky to be in IC), Kinder Surprise (sucks, but somewhat understandable). The brush, while potentially dangerous, isn't probably dangerous enough to cause a ban since you don't swallow the brush as a whole and the likelihood of harm, while potentially severe, is small. It's also worth noting that things are generally banned if they'll affect children but not adults, which is a primary reason why the two examples I mentioned were banned.

> Kinder Surprise (sucks, but somewhat understandable)

I still don't understand this, the explanation I have read is that it's due to the inner plastic being totally hidden, but the potential to swallow a Kinder Surprise whole is very low, unless your kids are _really_ large.

I was going to sardonically quip that kids in the US are really large [1]. That only works if only the US bans the candy. I looked up Kinder Surprise on Wikipedia [2] and found out that Chile also bans it. So the quip doesn't work. Completely unsubstantiated, but I cynically interpret the ban as bribery purchased by Frito-Lay and General Mills to protect their Cracker Jack product [3] and breakfast cereal products. The older I get the more I realize that many seemingly "safety"-oriented rulings and legislation that strike many citizens as a faintly picayune concern to enshrine into bureaucratic machinations and fund enforcement via taxpayers are just flat-out purchased from politicians to stifle competition.

[1] http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/report-u.s-most-obese-fatt...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinder_Surprise

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracker_Jack

Well, Chile's ban is different than US's ban. The US bans it because it's a potential public health risk[1], because someone may choke on the toy inside, while Chile bans it because they apparently banned all kinds of advertisements and products aimed at kids that have gifts that come with the product (I don't know the rationale; there is an article linked on Wikipedia but it's in Spanish and didn't translate well. My guess is that they want to reduce childhood nutrition issues by not letting manufacturers give presents with candy.).

As an aside, if you have never had a Kinder Surprise before, there is an image on the Wikipedia page, and the egg is decent sized -- I could probably fit it in my mouth whole, but it wouldn't be comfortable. The toy inside is also inside of a capsule that I would find really hard to believe could even be swallowed because it's at least as big as a US quarter but about 1 inch tall if my memory serves me correctly, but I guess 3 kids deaths in the UK prove me wrong.

1: "The embedded non-nutritive objects in these confectionery products may pose a public health risk as the consumer may unknowingly choke on the object.", see http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_107.html.

> ...but it wouldn't be comfortable...

Yes, when I saw the size of the capsule and toys inside, I thought there were many common household items that were far, far easier to ingest, were way more within daily reach than candy, and enforcing the ruling on these toys was arguably a waste of limited taxpayer-funded manpower.

Swallowing is not the problem, it's getting the plastic egg stuck in the back of the mouth or throat, blocking the airway.

If you can get it in the front of your mouth you're already doing better than your peers and Darwin is waiting impatiently to endow you with your highly appropriate award.

> Buckyballs

Not Buckminsterfullerene, but small magnets. See here for the story: http://gizmodo.com/how-buckyballs-fell-apart-1609183224

I genuinely don't understand the Kindersurprise ban. Those plastic eggs inside are fucking huge.


The "many countries" is just US, NZ and Australia (not UK).

The rest of the world still trusts their citizens not to eat stuff that's not good for them.

Confirmed not banned in the UK, here's some for sale right now on Amazon's UK site: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bargain-Neodymium-Strong-Magnets-Mo...

I have ordered rare earth magnets several times and it's always interesting to inspect the packaging when they show up. Clearly there are a lot of metal parts in Royal Mail's sorting machines as they frequently arrive in an absolutely tattered padded envelope, usually with tape patches over big holes ripped in the side.

If you can find some N52 grade magnets it's worth ordering them just for the novelty value. Hand someone a roll and ask them to peel one off the end. Or, stick one on the refrigerator with a note "pull this magnet off" and see who falls for it. They are so strong it's like seeing an alien technology in a sci-fi flick.

Probably worth finding a more reputable supplier. Mine come packaged inside a specially designed large EPS container that put enough distance between the magnets and the outer carton to not cause problems in shipping or storage.

If you can find some N52 grade magnets it's worth ordering them just for the novelty value

This 1013 lb pull N52 magnet could also be entertaining. Maybe also useful for checking grilled meat for metallic objects.


I'm guessing one that large would simply pull any metallic objects straight out of the meat, even if it were on the other side. Seriously, they sell smaller ones than that coated in epoxy for pulling up boat anchors when the anchor chain has broken. The ones I have are tiny, watch battery size and I can barely pull them apart. It simply isn't possible to hook your fingernail under one and lift it from a metal surface. You have to slide it to a corner and grab it. Hard to describe, but when you first handle them it's like "how the hell is this possible?".

Can confirm entertainment levels. Used similar magnets for a research project. They would start to shuffle and move ~30cm from any large magnetic metal piece. The fear was real when handling them.

rare earth magnets are not banned in the US per se. They are banned from children's toys. But I don't let my kids play with wire brushes either.

I did this a few months back and replaced it with a "cool cleaning" nylon-based one after I started noticing the extremely tiny metal bristles falling onto my grill. My wife said I was crazy -- today I feel vindicated.

well obviously you aren't crazy at all, who wants tiny metal bristles falling off and potentially getting in their food? Even without this specific case, that sounds awful and dangerous.

Hahaha you need to print this article and place it where she will "randomly" run into it.

I follow Al Bundy's advice. I never clean my grill. "Ashes from the past for burgers of the future."

I was going to post exactly this before realizing that someone else undoubtedly posted it before me, and I should upvote them.

I will only clean my charcoal grill with some hotter fire and a good whack from the grill spatula. Excess [0] ashes go into a bucket for later non-cooking uses. The carbonized residues on the grill create an ablative non-stick coating for any foods you put on it. Also, they make your grill marks black, when they might otherwise be red from the rust.

[0] Excess being defined as so much that the charcoal won't light.

Slight related topic: Anyone else BBQ a lot, reach to open a beer bottle, but are missing an opener? Why don't they make every BBQ utensil have a decent bottle opener at the end. Better yet, every utensil in your house?

Please take this idea and run with, just tell me where to buy a set.

My grill spatula has a bottle opener embedded in the cutout pattern at the end. When I realized it was a bottle opener I immediately thought 'who would want to open a bottle with a grilling spatula?'. Now, finally, I have my answer: tvongaza would want to open a bottle with a grilling spatula.

Sadly I don't recall where we bought our grill tools. Looks, based on a quick google, like it's not an uncommon combination. I think this would probably suit you pretty well: https://www.firebox.com/Machete-Spatula/p7134?mkt=en-us

The bottle opener on the end of my grill spatula is the only bottle opener in my entire kitchen that I can reliably find (because it's affixed to this huge grill spatula).

I use it to open bottles far, far more often than I use it as a spatula. I don't think I even grilled this year. Someone should make a grill spatula + bottle opener combo without the useless spatula part.

Home Depot sells one like this if you're in the US

You can use the flat edge of anything with a little leverage to pry a bottle cap off using your fingers as a fulcrum beneath the cap.


Real men use their teeth though.

(I never opened a bottle that way; but I did see someone break a tooth once. A molar, clean in half. Not sure if I'd rather have a wire stuck in my gut or break a molar in half.)

I have opened beer bottles with my belt buckle. Apparently this surprised people.

...I have seen someone successfully open a wine bottle with a shoe.

Cap of another (unopened) bottle works perfectly for this.

if you have sturdy (ie like volkswagen/audi/bmw) keys, you can use a key in a similar fashion

Bic lighters are exceptionally good for this (one of the important life skills I learned in college).

Can't speak for BMW keys, but every VAG key I've had has been horribly flimsy. Don't use it to open bottles or you'll be locked out of your car.

You can use a bic lighter or a table top (if you don't particularly care for the table) or even your teeth (if you don't particularly care for your teeth)


You can attach it pretty much anywhere just drilling and using a nut and bolt.

Everything is a beer opener. You just need skills.. :)

You just need to learn how to open a beer bottle with another beer bottle, or just use a corner of the BBQ.

Why not have the bottle opener attached to the BBQ itself? You could DIY this, or attach a keychain one to a chain to the BBQ.

Do you not have any sort of fixed object in the general vicinity with a straight, perpendicular edge? Picnic table edges, grill lips, random boards and pieces of wood, the eye socket or tooth of an Enlish soccer hooligan?

Here you go, someone got this for me as a gift many years ago:


I used it quite a bit, but just as a spatula. Very sturdy.

Every grill spatula is a great beer opener whether it was designed to be one or not.

You have an eye socket no? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5d8AKoa4Oo

I've seen a grill once with a bottle opener attached to it. really good idea that I'd never think of.

If you need a special tool to get your beer open, you don't want to drink badly enough.

Quick search brings up what looks like a viable alternative: http://www.thegreatscrape.com/

Good product, but the copy is terrible.

> It is made of solid hard wood and is designed for years of grilling pleasure.

Ii you follow the link at the bottom of the page to paimn.org, it looks like this is a product made by someone with autism. I don't know if you find that copy cliche or full of innuendo, but I am rather certain it is a harmless error.

I've used this for two years now and it works well.

Thanks for this... just ordered one. Cheers!

Amazon carries it for a slightly lower price. Ordered!

I've used it for about half a year, it's alright but doesn't work as well as advertised. Just buy a high quality metal brush, inspect before and after use, replace often. If it sounds like too much trouble you shouldn't be BBQing in the first place.

Paranoid patient question: when one goes for an MRI, is there any kind of scan for foreign metal objects? I'm sure they ask if you have any devices implanted, but do they actually check for the unexpected? What would happen if you had one of these little bristles and you didn't know it?

I'm not aware of any such scan, and I'd feel a lot safer if there were such a tool. I simply can't be sure if I have any embedded metal fragments, and do not want to discover this by having any such pieces rip through my body.

My father has worked with metal his whole life. If just a tiny sliver of metal shaving landed in his eye and worked it's way around to the back, an MRI would tear it straight through the eye ball.

>when one goes for an MRI, is there any kind of scan for foreign metal objects?


I've been using an alternative over the summer: https://www.amazon.com/GrillFloss-Ultimate-Grill-Cleaning-To...

Works great. You have to have the round, stainless grill grates.

This is as simple and sustainable as you can get. Even the aluminum alternative is more wasteful.

It looks like that would take a lot longer than I want to spend on that task.

It'll only need to be used on the bars with gunk on their underside, so you wouldn't necessarily have to do it for each bar.

This thread caught my attention because I never heard of similar things here in Brazil (at least not in the south, where BBQ is a basic need)


1 - we use lifts (?): like this one [1]

2 - people, in general, clean the grill using some rough paper while the grill is still hot, then wash it with some sponge, water and soap.

Hardly something that has metal (like brass or steel brush) is used, since they affect the grill surface with small scratches that will accumulate more fat next time,in an endless loop.

[1] http://www.gudim.com.br/produtos/espeto_duplo.png

>lifts (?)

"Spits" (as in "spit-roasted"), or "skewers"

I just threw mine away.

Great tip from the article: use crumpled up aluminum foil to clean the grates, instead.

Second. I was fortunate to have the bristle get jammed into my gums avoiding a ER trip. A few minutes of swearing and tweezering later I was fine :)

Stone scrapers are another viable alternative.

"During a discussion on ingested foreign objects that are difficult to remove..."

I wish I had been a fly on the wall for that discussion.

Just go drinking with some nurses, they always have good foreign object stories. My fave was about a morbidly obese person who got a whole BBQ chicken lodged in their throat. They called in half the department to "observe" that one.

You gotta remember to chew those pork chops


My father in law actually created a brush type tool to clean a grill, but has no chance of losing bristles.


I know he has several hundred of these to sell. They work well but he definitely needs a distributor.

Awesome. You should tell your father to double down on this news. This is marketing gold.

Looks awesome. You sold me.

The last time I was in the emergency room the nearest other patient had partially swallowed a needle. I can still hear the attempt to get it out...

So nope, never going to get close to one of these brushes. Good tip.

Yikes. I just threw mine out after reading this. Mine was so old, bristles actually fell out when I shook it.

Do commercial restaurant grills use the same?

I've seen most places use steel wool instead. The fibres do still find their way into food, unfortunately. But the fibres are often much softer and far less dangerous.

I once bought a burger that had a piece of steel wool in it.

From my experience, no.

We used to use hard steel srapers and steelos. At one of the restaurants I worked at, we actually had a tank of caustic that we'd soak the grills in overnight twice a week, cleaned them up to like new.

Of course, the caustic tank had it's own host of health and safety issues, but that was a staff concern, not a customer concern. That shit was nasty.

Apparently. Found a huge piece of wire in a dish served at Outback Steak House many years ago. Fortunately I caught it before swallowing, and the restaurant was great about it, but I can only imagine the problems it might have caused if swallowed.

In my kitchen we use stone grill cleaners to avoid this problem.

Same here. Plus a grill scraper for the flat top.

Pretty much, yes. Harvey's has grills in every restaurant and they scrub their grill using such a tool.

Then again the grill elements are removed and washed rather than simply scrubbed.

This would be perfect https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcvcEg0xGYY

And only about $250,000 each.

Could probably just throw out the grill at that point, that thing should cook steak just fine.

There is a video of the operator putting his finger in the path of the beam and it just goes over it no harm leaving a void.

I had no idea this was a problem. I've been using those things for decades. O_o

Here's a grill brush that you can use with a cut onion. Safe to use and no worry about bristles.

Sorry here's the link: http://thegrillion.com/

How is it legal to sell these things then? Why are they still on shelves? It's dangerous at its intended purpose, making it worse-than-useless.

>It's dangerous at its intended purpose, making it worse-than-useless.

You can't authoritatively say this until you have done a thorough cost analysis.

Tens or hundreds of millions of people around the world own these sort of brushes and they're very useful and effective for cleaning. I would not be surprised if their utility exceeded the cost of a few GI injuries a year. To be clear, I wouldn't be surprised the other way either.

They're less dangerous than cars and yet people still drive

I'm not sure I see the comparison. There are plenty of similarly priced alternatives to barbecue scrapers that work just as well while not being as dangerous. What are the alternatives to cars?

Planning that favors alternative modes such as walking, bicycling, and public transit.

"Planning" is not a product that a consumer can buy, and even then walking, bicycling, and public transit are most useful when you live in a densely packed area and aren't too concerned about traveling outside it.

Plus, I was being contrary to what my parent said about the dangers of cars. Aren't bicycles more dangerous?

Swapping out a component is vastly less complex than swapping out an entire system.

I'd love to see high-density, walkable, transitable, low-distance development in more places.

That would mean rebuilding the entire urban landscape, rewrites of layers upon layers of building codes and obligations, a writeoff of a vast amount of equity within the financial system, changing patterns of habits and desires, and more. You're involving every suburban homeowner everywhere, every city, county, state/provincial, and national government. The real estate lobby. Banks. Builders. Building suppliers. Architects.

Good luck with that.

Vs. outlawing a brush.

This is pretty much an exemplar case of the difference between simple and complex problems.

Does Amazon sell those? I can't find and planning that favors alternative modes in my local shopping district.

Walking, bicycling, or public transit aren't alternatives for loading a desk and two chairs on the back seats and a couple backpacks & bags with clothes plus 50kg of hardware in the trunk... which I did just yesterday.

Cars don't exist just to transport our bodies.

You can buy them in every single hardware store. Even if you banned bbq specific ones, they would still be readily available.

Time to throw my grill brush away. It always hurt when I accidently touched it anyhow. Steel wool is probably safer and better anyhow.

My grill cleaning method has always been to put a layer of tinfoil on the grill, shiny side down. Ten minutes or so of direct heat and the grill is clean, just like a self-cleaning oven. If there's any ash left, a quick pass with a wet paper towel takes care of it.

A while back I learned that the shiny side is no different from the duller side [0] (except for the shininess of course!)

[0] http://www.chowhound.com/post/shiny-dull-aluminum-foil-debat.... I couldn't find a 'best' link but after looking at few the point is clear

I stupidly used relatively thin/cheap tinfoil when I tried this and it flaked all over my grill after having it heat up. Just a word of caution...

Yeah, Aluminium foil is definitely not something you can go generic with.

I learned this the hard way. Cheap aluminum foil falls apart really easily at the kind of heats you would want to use for baking or grilling. It's worth it to even buy the Reynolds extra strength stuff. Worst part of grilling is if your tin foil gets holes in it, and now you've screwed up the moisture barrier.

Why not just close the lid?

I'm guessing the tinfoil keeps the heat closer to the bars? Not sure why above posters method works.

mmmh...Now I am thinking that you may be able to use the tin foil on top of the steaks to keep it hotter.

I never use them. I have a heavy gauge spatula that I use to scrape the top, then hold it at a 45 degree angle to scrape in between the wires that form the rack. The bottom doesn't get clean. Nobody has ever gotten sick nor required surgery.

As a result of reading this article and thread though I will never use one and proactively warn friends and family about them.

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