COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)- A group of students at Clemson University conducted a study testing ping pong balls after being used in beer pong games across campus one weekend last fall. The students found the balls were teeming with bacteria. Further research found dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, E. coli and staph on the balls end up in the beer when players successfully tossed the balls into the glasses.
The research was part of Clemson University's Creative Inquiry Program where students pose common-sense scientific questions, then plan research to find the answers. The student’s have debunked the notorious “five second rule” and the social faux paux that double-dipping chips can pose a health hazard.
In most versions of beer pong, players toss balls into glasses of beer, then chug the glasses on a successful conversion. For their work, the students spanned out across campus during homecoming weekend last fall in search of beer pong balls. When they found them, researching students offered the players clean, new balls in exchange for the used ones. They recorded where the game was played and for how long.
Although outbreaks of beer pong illnesses aren’t seriously sweeping across campuses, the students found playing the game by the rules carries an unnecessary risk of ingesting these bacteria.