How Long Can Pizza Sit Out?

We’ve all had an over-feeding situation on our favorite food, most especially pizza. But how long can a box of pizza sit out with or without a refrigerant and still be consumable? Well, you are about to find out in this article.

Temperature is a major factor that causes perishability in cooked foods. But how long can a cooked meal sit out in different temperatures?

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For a meal to be considered a breeding ground for bacteria, the combination of PH, salt, nitrates, and water activity should be maximum. A standard pizza cannot provide an environment for bacteria to grow. So how do bacteria get into the pizza? Through the preparation.

According to different individuals and health organizations and blogs like Business insider, the period for a leftover pizza is different. Some suggest 2 hours, 4 hours, or even a whole day depending on their scale of health.

The 2-Hour Rule

The 2-Hour Rule

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the 2-hour rule is the period a cooked food can stay out without the need of any preservations. This applies to when the food is kept at room temperature of about 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

This may seem like a short period for a good to become unsafe for eating but the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that the existence of microorganisms is unavoidable without the exclusion of their presence in the air.

This can transfer trace amounts of bacteria into the leftover food which then cultivate furthermore due to the perfect breeding condition the food provides.

How long should a pizza sit out?

How long should a pizza sit out

Pizza is a type of meal that combines several ingredients to become the perfect elixir for college students. But as a college student, leaving pizza overnight sounds like a pretty regular thing to do.

Well, thank your very active immune system for fighting out those ingested bacteria, because eating an unpreserved pizza, puts you at a high risk of having food poisoning.

Your freshly delivered hot pizza is a perishable food product that contains minute quantities of different bacteria which is harmful for human consumption.

This minute bacteria has been gathered from several human interactions that involve your pizza like packaging after being baked, adding the topping, and handling by the delivery man.

But these toxic microorganisms begin to multiply after some periods which usually is 6 hours and above, making it unsafe for human consumption.

According to scientists, within 7 hours below the ideal temperature, bacteria reproduce over a million times. This means every hour they reproduce over 200,000 times.

The ideal temperature for storing food below room temperature?

Web restaurant store says that the ideal temperature for storing pizza is between 0°F – 35°F. This is the best temperature below the standard room temperature. This is to ensure microorganisms like salmonella, E.coli, and more should not exist and be active which can cause food spoilage.

The ideal temperature of storing food above room temperature?

According to the FDA, the ideal temperature above room temperature is 150°F – and above. This consistent warming temperature would provide an inactive medium for bacteria growth.

Danger Zone Temperature

This is the range of temperature that thrives the growth of bacteria. The danger zone temperature is from 41°F to 135°F but 70°F to 135°F provides a habitable environment for bacteria to thrive in.

The longer the foods sit in the danger zone, the more the bacteria multiple successfully.

What is the preservation time for most pizza products?

What is the preservation time for most pizza products

Several pizza toppings have a different preservation period in freezers and refrigerators and some of them include; meat, cheese, and other toppings have a 4-6 hours counter expiration date and a 2-4 days refrigerator date.

Depending on the type of pizza dough the life span is generally from 60-180 days maximum. Dough balls are used within 2 to 4 days of refrigerating.

Domino’s Pizza has an expiration of 1 day if placed on the counter, 3-5 days in the fridge, and 4-6 months in a well-functioning deep freezer.

Most chain pizzas have the same expiration time frame with dominos or differ with a few hours or days.

How to properly store your pizza?

How to properly store your pizza

Why throw out leftover pizza when you can simply preserve it properly for human consumption. There are several ways to store pizza and they include;

The Refrigerator or Deep Freezer

Ensure your pizza does not sit out for more than 2 to 4  hours before refrigerating. If it has kindly discarded it. It is necessary to have a thermometer to check the temperature of your fridge. This is to be sure it is the right temperature for storing food.

Make sure you allow a notable amount of space where storing pizza slices in “doggie bags” and other perishable foods, to allow the circulation of air around all the food contents and avoid the mixing of different smells.

Doggie bags are small polythene or plastic bags where you can store food before placing it inside a refrigerator. This video from popular Doctor Oz shows how to properly store pizza in a fridge.

The Oven

The oven or microwave is the perfect place to store your pizza. It provides consistent low heat till you ever need to eat it again. The heat keeps the minute bacteria inactive.

It is best you transfer the pizza to the plate before putting in a microwave. This is because some inks on the carton may not be safe when heated and there is likely possibility of the carton catching fire in the oven.

But it doesn’t look spoiled, why shouldn’t I eat it?

But it doesn't look spoiled, why shouldn't I eat it

Spoilage of food does not begin with a bad odor or mold growing on top. Spoilage begins far earlier than that. This is because the activities of bacteria begin immediately after a meal is made and multiplies.

The multiplication process is not visible at first to the human eyes because they are very tiny. With the aid of a microscope, you will be able to see that your freshly made pizza contains bacteria.

But at that fresh state, the bacteria is consumable, but when the food falls towards the danger zone temperature, they begin to multiply rapidly; still not causing any physical change in the food like pizza. This is why a one-week pizza can look fresh.

Can I eat pizza that has stayed out for more than 2 hours?

Can I eat pizza that has stayed out for more than 2 hours

Generally, only a few percent of the Earth’s population obey the 2-hour rule. This is because as humans, we are known to always defy rules.

A pizza that has sat out for more than 4 hours is considered safe to eat according to human standards, not to food professionals and scientist standards.

So, chugging down a 4-hour pizza may not cause you significant health damage. But anything greater than 4 to 6  hours might cause damage, most especially to old-aged ones or people with weak immune systems.

This does not necessarily encompass college students who can chug down anything as far as it is pizza and looks good enough.

Why is pizza considered an unsafe food?

Apart from the high fat and cheese content, the preparation of pizza itself is unsafe medically for human consumption.

A standard pizza is made by people with little to no idea on food safety, this is the reason why most large food chain merchandise employ any Tom and Harry in the kitchen.

The general reason pizza toppings are cut so small is to facilitate rapid healing. Despite the use of gloves, they are most unsterilized and will help in transferring diseases from one made pizza to another topping.

More so, the cooking time of pizza is not long nor strong enough to kill microorganisms present.

This is then transferred to a closed paper box which will aid the growth of microorganisms as you drive around for 20 to 30 minutes in search of your location, incubating the already present bacteria.

We let it sit out for almost 2 days to eat again, then we wonder why we get ill? What generally makes us sick are not the ingredients but the manner of preparing the pizza was made. This video gives you more information on the healthiness of pizza.

What happens when we eat expired pizza?

With a very active immune system, eating an expired pizza once or twice may not generally have a significant health impact on you but people who are aged, initially I’ll or possess a low immune system can exhibit several food poisoning symptoms which may include;

  • Nausea and headache
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps or Abdominal pain
  • Blood in stool
  • Severe dehydration.
  • Consult a medical practitioner if any or more of these symptoms appear after eating leftover food. Ensure you stay dehydrated before the arrival of a doctor.

Bottom Line

A 2 to 4 hour left out pizza will not kill you but anything longer than that is hazardous because the human stomach juice isn’t strong enough to dissolve bacteria.

Taking small steps to preserve your pizza like warming and refrigerating will save you some extra cash, a filled belly, and avoid food wastage.

Would you still eat that good-looking leftover pizza, if you were shown what activity bacteria were engaging in under the microscope? My best bet on your answer is no.

In conclusion, pizza is cheap, healthcare facilities are not.

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