Nova Scotia

Ban wire BBQ brushes, says 'lucky' man who swallowed bristle

A barbecued meal turned into a trip to the ER for a Yarmouth, N.S., man who swallowed a wire bristle from a grill brush. Chester Poole says Health Canada should ban the brushes.

Health Canada is conducting a risk assessment of the brushes after 9 incident reports

Chester Poole says he's now warning people about the safety risks of using wire-bristle brushes. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia man who ended up in the ER after a wire bristle from a barbecue brush became painfully lodged in his throat says Health Canada shouldn't just review the cleaning utensils, it should ban them altogether.

The federal department is conducting a risk assessment after receiving nine incident reports since 2011 about problems with different brands of wire-bristle brushes. 

Chester Poole of Yarmouth, N.S., recently swallowed a three-centimetre-long bristle with his barbecued meal after it separated from his nearly new brush.

"I had this sharp pain in my throat and I thought, 'Oh, what's that?'" Poole said.

'Very lucky man'

Doctors in Yarmouth were able to confirm the problem with an X-ray, but they weren't able to get the bristle out.

Chester Poole says people should throw out their wire-bristle brushes. (CBC)

Poole ended up travelling 300 kilometres to Halifax, where an ear, nose and throat specialist was able to extract the fine wire using a probe going in through his nose.

"He told me I was a very lucky man, told me I should go buy a lotto ticket. It wasn't a very good experience," Poole said.

When he returned home, Poole disposed of his wire-bristle brush and he's urging others to do the same.

He said there are plenty of alternative ways to clean a barbecue.

Still nervous

The experience has made Poole wary of barbecues. Even though it's prime grilling season, Poole only returned to it for the first time Sunday night, weeks after his trip to the emergency room.

"I put the barbecued hamburgers on our plate, my wife and I looked at each other [and] I said, 'Well, let's try this again.'"

A close-up of the wire bristle that was lodged in Chester Poole's throat. (Chester Poole/Facebook)

There was no stabbing pain after that meal, but Poole isn't taking any chances. He said he's leery of attending public barbecues or even backyard grills at someone else's home where he doesn't know how they cleaned their barbecue.

"I just can't take the chance. It's too harrowing an experience for me to try that."

Health Canada said it could issue a recall, ordering stores to stop selling the brushes or seizing the products if it determines the brushes are dangerous. 

The review is expected to be finished later this summer.