The Grill Bristle Menace?

Via The HillSchumer calls for federal review of grill brush safety, possible recall

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review whether metal grill brushes are safe for consumer use, after reports that some metal bristles broke off the brush and were swallowed, sending two men to the hospital.


Schumer said men from New Jersey and Washington State were recently hospitalized after swallowing metal bristles that fell off their grill brushes. He said that reports indicate that similar incidents occurred nearly a dozen times over the last three years.

Ok, I have no problem looking into the safety of consumer products in the face of a serious pattern of problems.  However, to take two incidences and then back that up with “nearly a dozen” over a period of three years strikes me as a problematic cost/benefit ratio here (to put it mildly).

Assuming that we are just talking about the state of New York over those three years (although that is unclear) it seems that there have to be hundreds of thousands of piece of meat grilled in said state with a large number of potential bristles involved.  If, in fact, there have been roughly 12 cases of people swallowing said bristles and having to go to the hospital I can’t image that there is a recall-worthy regulatory problem in need of attention here.

h/t:  KPC.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Hey Norm says:

    I saw this yesterday.
    I’m wearing a neck-brace today because I rolled my eyes so hard…

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Sometimes the nanny state parodies actually write themselves.

  3. Scott says:

    I actually picked a metal bristle out of my hamburger last weekend. I looked on my grill (after getting the reading glasses on) and there were metal bristles here and there. Not sure whether it is worthy of study but certainly worthy of warning.

  4. JKB says:


    Last brush I bought had a warning.

  5. Brian Lehman says:

    I hear that people sometimes jump off bridges. Who is going to investigate this menace?

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    Two things:

    1. There are now grill scrub pads (still attached to a pole, and heat resistant) that do a much better job.

    2. Replace your grill brushes more often.

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @Brian Lehman: San Francisco did. No, I’m actually being serious. Not too long ago they spent taxpayer dollars trying to come up with a solution to the Golden Gate Bridge’s “suicide problem.”

  8. al-Ameda says:

    Some metal grill bristles start to break off?
    Time to buy a new Metal Grill Brush – there, problem solved.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    @Brian Lehman:

    I hear that people sometimes jump off bridges. Who is going to investigate this menace?

    Actually, the Golden Gate Bridge Transit District has spent a lot of money investigating this, and the result is that some have estimated that it would cost upwards of $40M to construct a suicide barrier.

  10. gevin shaw says:

    @Brian Lehman:

    I hear that people sometimes jump off bridges. Who is going to investigate this menace?

    When I first heard about the suicide solution here on the Bridge, I would have agreed with you. Then I found out that, since it opened 75 years ago, there as been an average of a death every other week, year in, year out, and making it a little less easy doesn’t seem so ridiculous.

  11. walt moffett says:

    Or use a better quality grill brush, I use a steel brush bought in the welding supplies section at the local hardware store. Works very well.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    Bridges, tall buildings, public or private, suicide is a problem. The owners of these buildings and bridges have investigated and implemented ways to reduce their incidence. And some view this as Nanny state- ism? Wow. And what is it when the private owners of the Sears (Willis) Tower or the Empire State Building do the same?

  13. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @MarkedMan: When the private owner of a building does it it’s a private owner spending their own money to reduce liability risks and thereby to reduce their liability insurance premium costs, which in turns boosts their private profit margins. When a government owner of a public bridge does it, however, then it’s nanny statism. For the simple reason that we’re talking in the latter case about public (i.e., taxpayer) dollars. You do understand, don’t you, that there’s a difference on the one hand between the government using your tax dollars to try to stamp out stupid or to preempt suicidal and on the other hand a private company using its retained earnings or private loan proceeds to reduce costs and thus to improve profit margins for its owners and investors? How is that escaping you, exactly?