Over my vacation last week, I grilled 26 pieces of Moroccan chicken at my hostess’s home, part of a communal, take-your-turn effort to feed the masses on this festive group holiday. Afterward, my husband found the wire cleaning brush and dutifully scraped down the grill, removing the remainder of the mess. We don’t have a wire grill brush at home because our grill is small and the wire rack is easily removed. We just clean it by washing it.
It was my old college chum–old not in years but length of time we’ve known each other–who pointed out the dangers of this conventional method of grill cleaning. I had been totally unaware of this, but it immediately made sense. People have been hospitalized with stomach pain and worse, because of ingesting the small shards of shaved metal from wire grill brushes. After a little research, I found that earlier this month, I found a recent incident in Rhode Island in early July which sent six people to the ER. One had a perforated stomach from the shard. The wire lanced through the stomach, and lacerated the liver. The bristle had to be surgically removed.
The Centers for Disease Control actually issued a warning about cleaning your grill with a wire brush because of the tendency for the bristles to dislodge and remain on the grill, only to be embedded in the next food item to be placed there.
So how do you clean a grill if you don’t want to use a wire brush? The best time to clean a grill is while it is still warm and the mess on the wire racks is still pliable. If you scrape with a wire brush, it should be followed up by rinsing it down with a wet cloth or rinsing it. Or find another method, such as a grill stone or nylon scrubber.