This article describes a potentially serious problem from eating food off a grill that has been cleaned using a wire brush. The bristles dislodge from the brush then lodge in the food, then enter the digestive tract when eaten. Potentially causing fatal results.

My question is...
How do I make sure no bristles are left behind from the previous griller so my food stays safe to eat?

4 Answers 4


Side note: If you are really worried because 6 out of who knows how many barbecued in 2011–2012 (and two before that), you might have a fear issue. This is not very likely to happen to you looking at it from a statistically point of you.

However regarding your question, your best bet is simply to change away from using something with bristles to clean it. Opt for scrubs, cloths or other washing products.

If you have to use a wire brush, use one of good quality and replace it when it shows significant signs of wear and tear. After using the brush on the grill, if you rinse the grill rist with running water, you will further reduce the risk of bristles. You could even dry it off with cloths.

But please don't go paranoia on something which has a rather slim chance of happening.


Well there are several things you could do:

  1. Use a magnet beforehand to find out if the wires are magnetic (I'm almost certain they are, but just to be sure). If they are, just use a strong magnet from both sides of the metal grid (where you put your food) to get all the wires stuck to the magnet and repeat this procedure until there are no wires anymore.

  2. Now if the wires are not magnetic you could try to mechanically remove the wires with water or a cleaning cloth, although I think you'd have to be thorough to be sure to get every little wire thingy...

  3. A whole other approach would be to use something similar to this (just google 'alu grill bowl'). In Germany it is pretty common to use those as you don't have to worry about those wires and on top of it, you don't have to clean the grid at all. I use them every time I grill and they work pretty good and cool off in a matter of seconds after taking them off the grill (so you don't have to wait). The only downside is that that you lose a little (definitely not much) heat so the meat won't be done as fast as without it... (could be an advantage as well if you burn it often)

  4. You can build the alu bowl of (3) yourself: just take some aluminum foil, the size of your grill and fold it once (optional) and then use a toothpick or something similar and poke holes into it, this will work as a last resort but you have to watch out that it doesn't fly away when there is no food on it (because heat rises) also the aluminum foil could stuck to your food and its awfully hard to get that off.

Conclusion: I would try 1/2 first because those are the easiest ways. 3 is also a good solution and avoids the whole wire problem but has some (IMO insignificant) disadvantages and 4 should as I already wrote be used as the very last resort if you don't have time to do 1/2 (or you don't have a magnet, water or a cleaning cloth) and don't have the alu grill bowl and want to be sure that you don't eat wires.


Lots of grillers will use a wire brush first, then they use a towel submerged in oil as seen on TV.

So my suggestion is using a wet towel or one submerged in oil (to also help with the cooking process I believe, please help me on this one) and rub it against the area where the wire brush was used. To avoid putting your hand on super hot metal, wrap the towel into a roll and use tongs to move the towel back and forth.


Keep your grill clean enough that you can see bristles.

I don't know when dirty grills got popular, I think it was around the advent of the internet, but I see a lot of nasty grills. The stuff stuck on the grill is animal fat, sugar, trace amounts of carcinogens and wire bristles. Just clean all of that stuff off.

I think a lot of people that that gunk is seasoning or extra flavor or something. It's not. If your meal needs to cook on that crap in order to taste proper then you are doing it wrong!

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