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Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kickoff to the summer season and that means grilling in the backyard. I did just that this past Saturday with family and friends who were around for the holiday weekend. But there is a hidden danger associated with grilling that is worth some consideration.

Grill brushes. Yes, the brushes used to clean grills can be a significant hazard to your health. More and more cases are being reported of people ingesting grill brush wires that made their way from a cleaning brush into the food being cooked on the grill. Grill brush wire ingestion typically results in a visit to the emergency room with reports of severe pain while swallowing and/or severe abdominal pain. The reported symptoms are perforations or injury to neck tissues or damage to the intestinal tract if the wire travels that far after ingestion.

There are a number of alternatives to grill brushes on the market. These include cleaning stones, screens, scrapers, blades, pads and pumice scouring stones and sticks. The other alternative that has been suggested is skipping the grill cleaning altogether. After all, given the heat generated during the grilling process, is there really a need to clean them at all? Regardless, if you have a grill brush think twice before using it and inspect it carefully if you do intend to use it see if it is in good shape.

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