With barbecue season upon us, doctors want to remind you that using metal brushes to clean your grill could be hazardous to your health.

A debate over wire bristle brushes has raged on for years after some people reported swallowing wires from cheap brushes and experiencing severe pain. In June 2018, a nine-year-old Manitoba boy needed to have a bristle removed from his esophagus after eating some Father's Day ribs.

"Metal bristles can break off of the brush during cleaning and may be ingested along with cooked foods and pierce the lining of the mouth, throat or stomach." said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer for Island Health.

"Ensure your grill brush is in good condition before using it and consider using a safer cleaning tool made of a material like aluminum foil, wire wool or wood."

Mark Besner, a barbecue expert at Capital Iron in Victoria, said using common sense and avoiding cheap materials is crucial.

"When cleaning your barbecue make sure you're paying attention and not looking at your phone. Inexpensive brushes are made to last three months and people will use them for three years. Barbecue cleaners with metal bristles that are wound or stapled in are a far safer option," said Besner. 

There were nine bristle brush injuries in Canada in 2017. 

Health Canada is working to develop a standard for wire barbecue brushes.