WebMD Countdown: 5 Common Creepies Found in Buffets

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Here's something you probably did not know. All-you-can-eat is actually Latin for bacteria all over your food. OK, we made it up. But seriously, if you aren't careful, you could get more than you bargained for at the $6.99 buffet.

Here are five tiny terribles that might be lurking in your everyday buffet. Number one, I know you're probably wondering, hm, what's the leading cause of diarrhea? Well, it's actually norovirus, and it comes from dirty hands. If you're the one making the food, wash up for a full 20 seconds each time. No cheating.

Number two, E.coli. The main sources of E.coli are undercooked meat and raw veggies. So if the beef is still mooing, back off that buffet. And don't grab buffet food with your bare hands, either. People carry E.coli, too. Use the tongs.

Number three, listeria. It rhymes with hysteria. Here's why. It mainly affects pregnant women, older adults, newborns, and people with weak immune systems. So if you fall into any of those categories, you might want to avoid hot dogs, deli meats, soft cheeses, and smoked seafood. Listeria can cause anything from flu-like symptoms to even a full-blown assault on the nervous system, so be super-careful.

Number four, hepatitis. In this case, we're talking hepatitis A, which you usually get by eating fecal matter. Gross. If this one goes from the buffet to your belly, symptoms include diarrhea, fever, fatigue, cramps, and you could even become jaundiced.

Number five, salmonella, one of the most common causes of food poisoning in America. It's found in raw or undercooked meat, fish, and eggs. While it probably won't kill you, you'll definitely feel the symptoms for the next 12 to 72 hours. Think diarrhea, fever, cramps, and vomiting.

If you do come down with it, drink plenty of fluids. And if the symptoms are severe, it's time to see the doc. Listen, it's pretty simple. If a buffet is in your future, the best way to stay safe is to follow a few basic rules. Hot food should be hot. Cold food should be cold. Check the freshness of the food. If it looks or smells even a tiny bit off, skip it.

If you notice or suspect food of having been left out for more than two hours, avoid it. Make sure raw and cooked foods don't co-mingle. And make sure there are sneeze guards over the food. Seriously. Most of the time, buffets are safe, so feel free to strap on the feed bag and join in on the frenzy. Just keep these tips in mind.