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Holiday Potlucks: Where Bacteria (and Douchebags) Party

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Is it okay to eat this? | Photo by roland via Flickr

In what has to be one of the grossest holiday-themed articles published this year on the LA Times (whose online content may or may not be controlled by gnomes) comes the breakdown of bacteria, as it can perhaps be found on the buffet table of your next holiday gathering.

Behold the cornucopia of germs and pathogens poised like Grinches to steal your merriment and lay siege to your body! Or, as the completely un-sensational Times puts it: "it's a minefield of food-poisoning bacteria waiting to wreak havoc." In this era of hand-sanitizer dispensers next to the shopping carts at your grocery store and overall germ-phobia we seem to have first forgotten that regular contact with minor germs makes our immune systems stronger, and second that the holidays are going to be a lot less fun if we start grilling our party guests on how often they washed their hands while making the spinach dip in a breadbowl.

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Just how big of problem are illnesses reported after eating homemade treats at a party? Turns out not so much, since the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health "gets far fewer reports of food poisoning from potlucks than it does from restaurants."

So are party goers really at risk to develop diseases brought on by things like E. Coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter?