A Carberry man is hopeful that new warnings on metal wire barbecue brushes will save people from going through the same medical problems he did after accidentally ingesting a bristle.
After experiencing months of medical issues, surgeons found an inch-long metal bristle inside of Mark Hood, who farms near Carberry. Doctors won’t say for certain, but Hood believes the piece of metal came from the barbecue brush he used a few months before he first noticed issues in August 2019.
Sun columnist Diane Nelson wrote about Hood’s experiences in a Feb. 7 column in the newspaper. Hood was feeling unwell when he arrived in Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding in early August. He underwent surgery to remove a blockage in his stomach and after complications spent three-and-a-half weeks in a Las Vegas hospital.
He was transported by helicopter back to Brandon, where he spent another four and a half weeks in the Brandon Regional Health Centre. He was released for a few weeks but went back for surgery after doctors found he went septic. Hood went under the knife again, which is when doctors found the wire.
New voluntary standards developed by Health Canada in partnership with the Retail Council of Canada and the Standards Council of Canada are aimed at preventing the same thing from happening to people in the future.
The standard is voluntary for companies, but a spokesperson for the Retail Council told CBC News he’s hopeful retailers and manufacturers will start abiding by the standard.
The standard sets out methods for testing brushes, including mechanically pulling on bristles and exposing brushes to heating and cooling.
Under the CSA standard, metal brushes would also be labelled with a warning against continuing to use the brush if bristles are found on the grill. Packaging for the brush would also come with a warning to examine the brush for loose bristles before each use and to throw it out if any come off.
Hood said he’s now almost back to 100 per cent healthy and that he believes the new standards and warning will be valuable.
"I probably would not have used (metal brushes) if I had seen all the warnings. I assume things have been tested properly and if there’s a warning, it’s for a reason," he said.
"I’m hoping that the problem doesn’t exist anymore. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, because it turned into quite an ordeal."
According to Health Canada, the agency received 59 reports related to barbecue brush bristles between Jan. 1, 2014 and Jan. 29, 2020. A total of 48 cases resulted in injury, including 14 found in people’s throats and six in intestines.
Hood now keeps the piece of metal doctors found, approximately the width of a dog’s hair, in a small glass specimen bottle. He admits it’s so small he sometimes has trouble finding it in the bottle.
Hood said he now uses a plastic or wood brush to keep his grill clean.
"As long as there’s a decent alternative it’s just nicer to go to the alternative, and why take the chance?"
» Twitter: @DrewMay_
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