Memorial Day weekend is here! Time to get out and grill, but beware, wire bristles from your grill brush can really ruin your barbecue.

I know it sounds strange, but those bristles can wreak havoc on your body if ingested. You see, when you clean your grill with a wire brush, those bristles can fall out and stick on your grill grates. Then those bristles can get in your food and you could ingest one without even knowing. Check this out from Science Daily:

A new study conducted at the University of Missouri School of Medicine identified more than 1,600 injuries from wire-bristle grill brushes reported in emergency rooms since 2002. Loose bristles can fall off the brush during cleaning and end up in the grilled food, which, if consumed, can lead to injuries in the mouth, throat and tonsils. Researchers advise individuals to inspect their food carefully after grilling or consider alternative grill-cleaning methods.

Those tiny bristles can cause big time damage if not taken care of properly according to David Chang, M.D.,

One little bristle unrecognized could get lodged in various areas of the body, whether in the throat, tonsil or neck region, Chang said. If the bristle passes through those regions without lodging itself, it could get stuck further downstream in places like the esophagus, stomach or the intestine. The biggest worry is that it will lodge into those areas and get stuck in the wall of the intestine. The bristles could migrate out of the intestine and cause further internal damage.

He has some recommendations for grillers:

  1. Use caution when cleaning grills with wire-bristle brushes, examining brushes before each use and discarding if bristles are loose.
  2. Inspect your grill's cooking grates before cooking, or use alternative cleaning methods such as nylon-bristle brushes or balls of tin foil.
  3. Inspect grilled food carefully after cooking to make sure bristles are not stuck to the food.

So be cautious when you grill, the last thing you want is someone ingesting a dangerous bristle from your grill brush. I actually stopped using them. I spray my grill grates with water and wipe them down with a cloth.