Summer is the season where your grill sees regular use, but is your wire brush putting your next BBQ at risk?

A recent study showed that an estimated 1,700 Americans went to an emergency room between 2002 and 2014 after they ingested the small wire bristles in food that was cooked on the grill. The small metal pieces came from stainless steel or brass wire brushes, commonly used to clean grill grates on BBQ pits.

Most of the injuries are to the mouth and throat but some have experienced intestinal and stomach injuries as well.

The number may not be large at all, but experts say the study is only based on ER visits and doesn't account for "cases presenting at urgent care facilities or other outpatient settings."

So how do you ensure that your grill is clean before cooking but also eliminate the danger for these sharp bristles breaking off and remaining on the grilling surface? Consumer Reports suggests the following:

Alternative Cleaning Tools

Pumice stones or coil-shaped bristle-free brushes are a good choice. They also suggest brushing loose particles from your grill using a wad of crumpled aluminum foil. Of course, you have to be careful not to burn yourself on a hot grill.

Check Your Brush

If you use a wire brush, check your grill for bristles before cooking. A good sign that your brush should be replaced is if some areas of your brush has fewer bristles than others or if the brush is warped or worn.

Liquid Cleaners

The brush may do the trick from cookout to cookout, but occasionally your grill needs a "big" cleaning. Liquid grill cleaners can help to loosen debris and will get rid of that stubborn food residue.

Whatever you use to clean your grill, be safe and enjoy your summer!

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