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Warning: Wire-Brushing Your Grill May Be Hazardous To Your Health

Nancy Leson thought I was repeating an urban legend when I told her that diners have swallowed bristles from metal grill brushes along with their steaks.  But then I showed her this story about their dangers, and she admitted in an email I will save forever, "You were right — as always, Stein."  

And it's happened not just in Seattle, but all over the country.Here's a report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control. Maybe this kind of thing only happens with with those cheap, loosely-bristled brushes, but why take a chance? I now de-gunk with a kind of plastic-woolly thing. Wadded-up aluminum foil works well, too. Some grillers even use a notched twig to scrub off the goo.

How Do You Grill — Gas Or Charcoal?

Actually the bulk of our conversation this week was on the merits of gas versus charcoal. I was astonished at what you can pay for a gas grill — as much as $1,500 to $2,500, according to Nancy, who recently bought a new grill.

"They were the real Rolls-Royces of grills," she said, "and the guy's all tryin' to talk me into it. Kind of like being in a car salesman's clutches." 

The price of just a Rolls hood ornament is more than I paid for my own gas grill, which I already like better than my old charcoal-burner. I think the main advantage of gas is the convenience. But Google "gas vs. charcoal," and you'll see that controversy rages among those with too much time on their hands.

What's your preference? Maybe you've got a little grill-cleaning trick of your own. If so, please share. We promise not to bristle at you.

"...I've got a fire going and a nice snake on the barbecue."

– Bear Grylis

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.