Suppose you decided to host a pajama party with your friends and choose to have pizza. Then, you find some pizza left on your counter at room temperature and eat it for breakfast in the morning. But you wonder if it is safe? Really, how long can a pizza sit out?
Fact Or Bluff: Is Overnight Pizza Still Good?
There’s been a myth that we all believed in for a long time. Since we all love pizza, we might think we can still have it for breakfast. After all, it doesn’t look spoiled, and it still smells fantastic.
We are all guilty of buying a bulk of pizza more than we can eat. For this reason, we do not want the pizza to go to waste and throw it out. We wanted to preserve and stretch the life of pizza. But, while you might want to gobble a slice, food safety professionals might say otherwise.
The Department of Agriculture in the United States recommends that cooked food such as pizza should not sit out for two hours or more. Tomi Gemignani, the World Pizza Champion, also seconded that statement. He warned the public to discard foods left at room temperature for more than four hours.
It is because the ingredients in pizza contain food-borne pathogens. These bacteria survive in an environment with an average temperature. That is around 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Food-borne bacteria accumulate and grow when the pizza lingers within this temperature range.
But sometimes, it does not look rotten, and the taste is still okay. It is because pathogenic bacteria are the kinds of bacteria that do not usually hurt food’s smell, appearance, and taste. However, do not consider nor risk having the first bite of these leftover pizzas. It is dangerous and can sometimes be deadly.
Effects of Eating Left-Out Pizza
There are severe consequences of eating leftover pizza, such as foodborne illnesses. Having a healthy immune system, having a bite of leftover pizza may not seem dangerous. But those who have a low immune system can experience food poisoning. Symptoms include:
- Blood in stool
- Nausea and headache
- Vomiting, diarrhea
- Cramps and abdominal pain
So, while it may be tempting and mouth-watering, overnight pizza is not good anymore. As we all know, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Lastly, watch this video coverage of how long pizza can sit out to get a good visual.
Can Pepperoni Pizza Sit Out Longer Than Cheese Pizza?
Pepperoni pizza can turn bad much faster than a cheese pizza. And here’s the science behind it. Processed meat like pepperoni or salami undergoes fermentation to produce low pH. That also explains why it has a tangy taste to it.
But how does it exactly ferment? If you’re familiar with Lactobacillus from your favorite gut-healthy drink, you already know the answer! The said probiotics are crucial during the fermentation of sugar to lactic acid. They are typically refrigerated to preserve their beneficial characteristics. But the bacteria are controlled once you place it in a temperature above or below its optimal range.
As a result, bacteria forms in the meat and can cause intestinal infection to whoever ingests the pie.
So does this mean we can leave out the cheese pizza longer because of this statement? The answer is pretty simple: treat each style the same as any other. Not because it can hold out lengthier means you can abuse it. If you want to stay on the safe track, the best thing to do is to keep it as soon as you’re done with them.
And no worries! You can combine the two in the same container if you happen to have both on the same day. All you have to do is stack them using wax paper. It prevents the topping from sticking to the bottom of the other slice.
Golden Rule For Pizza: What Is The Ideal Temperature For Pizza?
You may have heard about this standard food directive called the two-hour rule. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises the public that foods left out at room temperature longer than two hours should be disposed of and tossed out.
Aside from the golden rule, have you encountered the term temperature danger zone? A temperature danger zone refers to temperatures between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit where foodborne bacteria can grow rapidly. Allowing foods to stay in this temperature danger zone will cause unhealthy bacteria to grow and spoil the food. This serious bacteria growth may happen undetected since food may still look safe for consumption. Because of this, it is best to know how long a pizza can sit out.
|Temperature Range (°F)
|40 or Below
|Up to 4 days (refrigeration)
|40 – 140 (Danger Zone)
|Less than 2 hours
|140 and Above
The UDSA points out that since pizza is a perishable food, it is not advisable to sit it at room temperature throughout the night. That also applies even if pizza does not contain any meat. Since most pizzas have cheese as their primary ingredient, storing it in a refrigerator can minimize the risk of foodborne bacteria.
But, it does not mean they should be automatically disposed of just because they stay out for two hours or longer. Pizza can sit at an average room temperature for up to two hours or even in much hotter conditions for one hour at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. With this, it is still safe to eat. But after this moment, you should transfer the pizza to a much cooler temperature. That means no less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid the growth of foodborne bacteria.
Still, bear in mind that pizzas do not arrive at their ideal temperature. Usually, we have pizzas delivered to our doors. Situations then may vary since the rider might take some time to give it more if your home is kilometers away.
In that instance, the temperature could reach below 140 degrees Fahrenheit before we even start eating it. So, the most excellent way to do this is to use a food thermometer to determine the pizza’s temperature.
Keeping Your Pizza: What Is The Best Way To Store Pizza?
Why ditch your pizza when you can stretch its life? To preserve the pizza, you need to know to store it properly. There are practical but effective tips to keep your pizza correct.
If you need to keep the pizza available for more than two hours, you can use the oven to maintain it for 140 degrees.
An oven is an excellent place where you can keep your pizza. It offers constant heat in the pie until you eat it again. The heat helps stay and control the activity of minute bacteria. On top of that, it is better to transfer the pizza to a plate before placing it in the oven. For some reason, if you use the carton, it may not be safe if heated.
After you enjoy your pie, you should place it in an airtight container in the fridge. Yes, folks! No need to be lazy about placing it in its proper storage to prevent drying. Also, to ensure its quality, you should cover it using plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil.
If kept correctly, leftover pizza can last three to four days in the fridge. Furthermore, if you want to sustain the pizza from its finest quality, you may keep it in the freezer. With this, pizza is still good-to-gone for up to two months. Nonetheless, it should be consumed immediately once the pizza is thawed out of the fridge.
Always remember that food contamination does not begin with a growing mold or even a foul odor. The accumulation of bacteria starts once a meal goes out of the kitchen. At first glance, the bacteria are still consumable. But, once the food drops into the temperature danger zone, bacteria can quickly multiply. Still, this will not manifest any physical change. That is why pizza can still look appealing even after a few hours, despite the growth of bacteria.
To learn more on how you could best store your leftover pizza, you may watch this video:
The Moment Of Truth: Why Is Pizza Often Considered An Unhealthy Food?
If not prepared and stored properly, pizza can become unsafe. According to medical professionals, pizza that has not been handled with proper food safety protocols may not be suitable for human consumption. Sometimes, a regular pizza is produced by people with little to no understanding of food safety and standards.
Also, even if they used gloves, it is often unsterilized and will transfer bacteria from the pizza to the toppings. In addition, the ingredients placed on pizza can quickly accumulate toxins. Plus, it can collect bacteria on pork, pepperoni, plus veggies.
On top of that, pizza is nothing without its cheese filling which is more susceptible to germs. It includes mozzarella, parmesan, and provolone.
Furthermore, the time spent cooking pizza is not potent enough to kill the existing microorganisms
After cooking, the pizza goes straight into a closed cardboard box. In turn, it causes further production of microorganisms. Then, once it arrives at our home, we let it sit out for days. Then, we reheat it and eat it again.
More specifically, pizza should not be left out, especially these pizza styles:
You might also shrug and reheat the pizza to kill the bacteria. But, while it may be true, you should still be meticulous when reheating leftovers. Although the microorganisms can get killed, the toxins already formed before will remain intact in the food. Toxins in pizza can cause symptoms of food poison. To avoid this, always store the pizza in a controlled-temperature environment.
So, the bottom line is while reheating pizza may kill the bacteria; it is still not safe for consumption. If you realize that you sit out the pizza overnight, it is best to toss it out. Also, even if you can put it in the fridge but for some reason, you notice that it has discoloration or green molds, dispose of it.
To learn about the healthiness of pizza, you might be interested to see this video.
We all love pizza—who doesn’t, right? But aside from our admiration of this comfort food comes along the knowledge of how long can a pizza sit out. Why is it though tl; dr— It can save you from repercussions you don’t want to happen in the first place. We’re talking about food poisoning and its undesirable aftereffects.
While leftover pizza is mouth-watering, you should not take the risk. If you want to keep it, make sure you refrigerate it. But once the pizza sits out for an extended period at room temperature, best to order again than be sorry.
Barbara is an enthusiastic food-exploring person that goes through different culinary experiences. She got inspired by creating a pizza blog post after she tasted one of the best-selling pizzas in Toledo.