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Firing up your grill this weekend? Loose brush bristles can make a cookout dangerous

Posted May 26, 2017 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2017 5:59 p.m. EDT

Thousands of North Carolinians will fire up their grills for the first time this weekend, and most will use a metal grill brush to get their cooking surface ready for a first round of burgers.

But if you're grill cleaning brush is too worn, an afternoon cookout could end up in a trip to the emergency room.

The problem is with the bristles, which can break off grill brushes, stick to a grill and then become lodged in food.

When you eat the food, those bristles can end up on your tongue or in your stomach or intestine. In some instances, complications from an accidental ingestion can result in emergency surgery.

Each year, about 130 people land in the ER because of swallowed grill brush bristles.

If the bristles on your brush are worn, it's time to replace it altogether.

After cleaning your grill, wipe it down with a wad of balled up aluminum foil or a wet towel to remove any bristles possibly left behind.

Another method involves wiping the grates with the cut side of an onion. Beyond picking up bristle bits, word is it also coats the grates with sulfuric acid, which helps stop bacteria from growing on your grill.