Health Canada re­view­ing safety of bar­be­cue brushes

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Health Canada is con­duct­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the safety of wire-bris­tle brushes used to clean bar­be­cues, with plans to con­clude the probe by the end of the sum­mer.

The agency said the risk as­sess­ment on the brushes comes af­ter it has re­ceived nine re­ports of in­juries from wire bris­tles since 2011.

The as­sess­ment started in April and should wrap up in Au­gust, said Tyler Good­ier, unit head of me­chan­i­cal and phys­i­cal haz­ards in Health Canada’s con­sumer prod­uct risk man­age­ment bureau.

“What we’re look­ing at here is: ‘are some brushes worse than other brushes? Is this just a mat­ter of brushes wear­ing out over time? How can we tell the dif­fer­ence?” Good­ier said.

The agency’s web­site warns that there is a risk of bris­tles get­ting lodged in food and swal­lowed, es­pe­cially with older brushes.

Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als have warned that in­juries from swal­low­ing wire bris­tles are un­com­mon, but some­times se­ri­ous enough to re­quire surgery.

Re­calls of the brushes or stopped sales are a pos­si­bil­ity de­pend­ing on the as­sess­ment’s find­ings, said Good­ier.

But even if in­ves­ti­ga­tors find that wire-bris­tle bar­be­cue brushes are harm­ful, Good­ier noted that they might not be pulled from shelves.

An out­right ban would be quite rare, Good­ier said.In 2015 a 39-yearold Brant­ford woman, Melinda Mouldey, re­quired emer­gency surgery af­ter an 11.3 mm bris­tle lodged deep in her throat.

Dr. Natasha Co­hen, a res­i­dent at St. Joseph’s Hospi­tal, told The Spec­ta­tor that “the fur­ther down it goes, the more dam­age it can cause.”

In 2014 there were about a dozen surg­eries of vary­ing com­plex­i­ties at St. Joseph’s to re­move wire brush bris­tles.

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