Summer is the perfect time for families to fire up the grill, but making sure the grill is cleaned properly could save BBQ fans a trip to the hospital.

      Anyone using BBQ grill brushes with metallic bristles to clean their grills should consider other methods of cleaning them, Dr. Salvador Sordo, surgical research resident at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio.

      “We have seen an increase number at emergency rooms and their doctors of people complaining of stomach pains,” Sordo said. “We found they have foreign bodies inside their bellies.”

      Sordo found patients are ingesting large bristles from grill brushes that have been broken or dislodged during cleaning. Those bristles can then remain on the grill surface until they stick to food, he said.

      “We have several patients that have all required some type of surgery in order to remove the metallic bristles inside their intestines,” Sordo said. “So yes it can be as serious as to require a hospital admission.”

      Anyone using brushes to clean grills, should find an alternative means of cleaning: scraping tools, piece of steel wool or even a crumpled up ball of aluminum foil.

      “Grills should be cleaned before they’re used and immediately after,” Sordo said. “If you do use a brush, make sure it’s replaced regularly.”