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New Health Canada report pins BBQ brush safety on customers, not agency

It's important to switch out your barbecue brush to avoid potential health hazards. Global News / File

No major recommendations, including the lack of a decision to ban the brushes, have come out of a Health Canada investigation into the safety of wire-bristle brushes used to clean barbecues.

READ MORE: Health Canada reviewing safety of BBQ brushes

The investigation, which began in July, was intended to look at safety concerns around the brushes and whether any sort of regulatory actions were needed.

READ MORE: Alberta mom warns of metal BBQ brush dangers after boy ends up in hospital

A boy from Whitecourt, Alta. was rushed to the Stollery in July after a 1.5-centimetre metal bristle got lodged in his throat. He underwent an operation and was soon on the mend.

“It could have ended so much worse than what it did for us,” mother Jenna Kuchik said.

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A Health Canada risk assessment report shared with Global News indicates the brushes are unregulated products, and swallowing a wire bristle “constitutes a potentially severe or life-threatening circumstance.” However, it does not recommend an outright ban on the products.

Major risk management options were not recommended since “voluntary recalls and regulatory options are not practical ways of reducing this risk,” the report reads.

Explanations include the fact a large number of brands sell the products in a large number of locations, consumer behaviour can play a role in how injuries occur and mandatory warnings are not expected to reduce the risk to customers.

“As the issue is not specific to a particular brand or make of BBQ brush, the department recommends that consumers inspect all wire-bristle BBQ brushes for signs of damage, as well as inspecting the grill and food to detect any loose wire bristles,” Health Canada spokesperson Sindy Souffront said.

There are recommendations for Health Canada to update websites to draw attention to the issue and use social media to warn Canadians of the potential risks.

Souffront said the department is working in close collaboration with industry stakeholders to develop safety requirements to reduce the risk posed by barbecue brushes.

-With files from the Canadian Press and Kim Smith

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