Okay, let’s be honest. We’ve all, at least once, been tempted to eat leftover pizza that we forgot to refrigerate. Most of us have actually gone ahead and taken a bite, only to end up devouring the entire slice.
So, the million-dollar question is: Can you get sick if you eat pizza that was left out overnight?
This will depend upon how you store it. For instance, was it refrigerated? If not, was it covered, or someone touched it?
In brief, eating pizza that was left out through the night is a bad idea. The USDA recommends throwing away any perishable food (including leftover pizza) that has stayed more than 2 hours under room temperature.
Eating pizza that was left out overnight can cause foodborne diseases. The foodborne bacteria grow and thrive under temperatures between 40˚F and 140˚ F. Refrigerated pizza, though, can stay fresh for up to 4 days.
USDA Recommendation On Leftover Food
The recommendation from the United States Department of Agriculture is to throw away any cooked food (including pizza) once it’s been left for more than two hours under room temperature.
The argument is that bacterial organisms tend to dwell in room temperatures and multiply themselves in your pizza if you don’t refrigerate it.
The bacteria can cause foodborne diseases, most of which may not be symptomatic at first. With time, however, the symptoms may show.
So, you’ll need to try and steer clear of pizza that has stayed overnight. If you eat it, you’re increasing your odds of getting sick.
Nonetheless, if the leftover pizza was refrigerated, the USDA recommends eating it within 4 days. Be sure to reheat it before you eat, but don’t do this more than once.
It’s best to refrigerate pizza only once. This is because bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, can develop heat-resistant toxins that won’t die off even when cooked later on.
What If There Was No Meat in My Leftover Pizza?
Most folks think that their leftover pizza is safe to eat if it didn’t have any meat. That’s still an idea you shouldn’t consider.
Ideally, any cooked food that’s left out for a certain period can harbor foodborne bacteria. And there’s a wide range of foodborne bacteria causing different diseases. I bet you don’t want to fall victim to such diseases.
It’s best to eat the entire pizza (you can share) or simply place it in the fridge for later use. Actually, leftover pizza is a great breakfast meal. So put that pie in the fridge and get your breakfast sorted!
The Temperature Overnight Was Cold, Can I Eat My Leftover Pizza?
If you’re sure the room temperature was less than 40˚ F throughout the night, it might be OK to eat pizza that was left out overnight.
In most cases, this is only applicable to those who live in very cold areas. In cold regions, the temperature at night can fall below 40˚F.
Once again, the last thing you want is to get used to eating leftover pizza. Remember, even in the coldest of areas, not all days will be cold.
Some days will be warm during the night. So, before you leave out that pizza overnight, be sure you know how cold it is.
Can I Eat My Leftover Pizza During Cold Winter?
In reiteration, you have to be sure the room temperature was below 40˚ F throughout the night. Please Do Not assume winter weather guarantees a 40˚ F temperature and below.
This is because most people tend to crank up the thermostat to warm the house. If you’re among them, your room won’t be cold enough, and you might want to consider throwing away the pizza.
The best way to guarantee your leftover pizza is safe to eat is through refrigeration. You can always thaw the pizza in the morning and use it for breakfast. Or you can eat it anytime within four days.
When Should I Consider Getting Rid Of Leftover Pizza?
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), you shouldn’t eat pizza that has stayed at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Instead, consider throwing it away and whip out another pie if you must eat pizza. You might be asking yourself: But my pizza stayed for just a few hours.
Well, it might be safe to reheat and eat it if it hasn’t been touched. But always remember, bacteria thrive at room temperatures.
If your pizza stayed for a short time, the bacteria in the food would probably be few. As such, they may not be strong enough to make you sick right away. However, they always have the potential to cause diseases; however few they may be.
Does Heating Up Leftover Pizza Kill Bacteria?
From an idealistic viewpoint, it’s safe to reheat pizza and eat it up. This is because bacteria usually die off when exposed to temperatures above 140˚ F.
And that’s why it’s crucial to not only thaw a refrigerated pizza but also heat it before consuming it.
So, idealistically speaking, you can heat leftover pizza that’s stayed more than 2 hours under a room temperature – because temps more than 140˚ F may kill the bacteria.
However, some bacteria tend to develop resistance to heat. That means that they won’t die even when heated. And that can be dangerous!
Some of these heat-resisting bacteria include the likes of staph (or staphylococcus aureus). Usually, this can survive under high temperatures. And when it does, you’ll be exposing your immunity to foodborne diseases.
Does Leftover Pizza Lose Taste the Next Day?
You shouldn’t expect the same quality of taste as it came ordered. However, depending on how you heat it, you can either lose the flavor completely or retain its original taste. The best way to reheat leftover pizza is using an oven.
There are other ways to reheat leftover pizza for breakfast. You can use a pizza stone, barbecue, or microwave.
If you care about the taste, just use an oven. It tends to retain most of the pizza’s original, delicious taste.
Is it Okay to Eat Leftover Pizza as a Breakfast Meal?
Yes, as long as you refrigerated the leftover pizza, it’s should be okay to eat it for breakfast. A warm, reheated slice of pizza is a great way to replace your usual cereals.
Notably, a bowl of cereal isn’t as healthy as compared to a slice of pizza. In surprising findings, studies have shown that pizza provides a more balanced diet than sugar-filled breakfast options.
A slice of that leftover pizza contains protein, fat, and carbs. A bowl of cereal, on the other hand, is mainly sugar with low-fat milk.
That doesn’t mean pizza does that great health-wise, though. Usually, pizza is not the ideal choice if you’re not fit. Know that most pizzas aren’t gluten-free, though you can always order gluten-free ones.
Nonetheless, compared to breakfast cereals, it’s better to take pizza in the morning. You can use the pizza you left in the fridge the previous day.
Is It Okay Leaving Pizza Out Overnight?
The United States Department of Agriculture advises you to throw away any cooked food that has stayed more than two hours in a room temperature.
That’s because harmful bacteria – which may cause foodborne diseases – tend to dwell and multiply at room temperature.
Also, note that if you’re living in warm areas, it’s best to throw away leftover pizza once it has stayed more than one hour. You can also refrigerate it so it remains fresh for up to 4 days.
Does Microwaving Leftover, Unrefrigerated Pizza Kill Bacteria?
Temperatures more than 140 F will kill bacteria. So, perhaps it’s safe to reheat the leftover pizza and eat it.
However, some bacteria develop heat-resisting properties such that when you reheat the pizza and eat it, you’ll still be exposing yourself to harmful bacteria.
Is It Okay to Eat Leftover Pizza for Breakfast?
YES. Taking pizza for breakfast is okay. As a matter of fact, more than 53 percent of Americans prefer eating pizza over their usual bowl of cereal.
And it’s a better, healthier option than the sugar-filled cereals. A slice of pizza has a better-balanced diet than a bowl of cereal. Better yet, sugary products tend to make you cranky during the day.
What’s the Best Way to Reheat Leftover Pizza?
Although you can quickly and easily reheat your leftover pizza using a microwave, a skillet, or a barbecue, the best method is using an oven.
All you need to do is turn on your oven and preheat it to 400˚ F (or 200˚ C). Then line a baking tray with foil, which you place inside the oven while preheating.
Take out the tray once the oven is ready, place the leftover pizza, and return it into the oven. Cook for 10 minutes.
Compared to a microwave or a skillet, pizza will have a crispy crust. The cheese will melt as required, and the taste will be fresh.
We all know how rare it is to leave a leftover pizza. But, once in a while, it happens. And when it does, some of us may forget to put it in the fridge.
So, is it okay to eat pizza that was left out overnight? The short answer is NO. If it wasn’t refrigerated, then it’s best to get rid of it.
Any cooked food that has stayed at room temperature for more than 2 hours isn’t safe to eat. That’s because the food will develop disease-causing bacteria.