How Long Can Pizza Sit Out? (Safe Storage)

Suppose you decided to host a pajama party with your friends and choose to have pizza. Then, you find that some pizza was left on your counter 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 could 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. However, while you might want to gobble a slice without overthinking, 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 two hours or more. Furthermore, Tomi Gemignani, the World Pizza Champion, warns the public and states that food that sits out at an average room temperature for four hours or more should be thrown away.

This is because the ingredients of pizza contain food-borne pathogens. These bacteria survive in an environment with an average temperature ranging from 40- to and 140-degrees Fahrenheit, the average normal room temperature. Food-borne bacteria accumulate and grow once the pizza is left below this temperature.

But sometimes, it does not look rotten, and the taste is still okay. This is because pathogenic bacteria are the kinds of bacteria that do not usually hurt food’s smell, appearance, and taste. However, do not take risks in having the first bite on these leftover pizzas. This is dangerous and sometimes deadly.

There are severe consequences of eating leftover pizza, such as foodborne illnesses. Having a healthy immune system, having a bite on leftover pizza may not seem dangerous. But those who have a low immune system can experience food poisoning. Symptoms include dehydration, 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 safe than sorry.

You may want to watch this video coverage on how long pizza can sit out.


Golden Rule for Pizza: What is the ideal temperature for Pizza? 

There is commonly called the two-hour rule. The US Department of Agriculture advises the public that foods left out at a room temperature longer than two hours should be disposed of and tossed out.

There is a temperature danger zone that should be observed for every food we consume. A temperature danger zone is a form of abuse of leaving foods for 41 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.

The UDSA points out that since pizza is a perishable food, it is not advisable to sit it out at room temperature throughout the night. This is applicable even if pizza does not contain any meat. Since most pizzas have cheese as their primary ingredient, it should be stored in a refrigerator to minimize the risk of foodborne bacteria.

However, 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 with about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. With this, it is still safe to eat. But after this moment, the pizza should be stored at a much cooler temperature of no less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid the growth of foodborne bacteria.

But 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.

By that time, the temperature could be reached 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 correctly.

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 pizza 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 this, you should place it in an airtight container. While you may be lazy and just put it back on its box, this may cause the pizza to dry faster. For this reason, you should put the pizza in the fridge in sealed containers. Also, to ensure its quality, you should cover it using plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil.

If kept correctly, leftover pizza can last for three to four days in the fridge. Furthermore, if you want to sustain the pizza in its finest quality, you may opt to keep it in the freezer. With this, pizza is still good-to-gone for up to two months. Nonetheless, it is recommended that once the pizza is thawed out of the refrigerator, it should be consumed immediately.

Remember that food contamination does not begin with a growing mold or even a foul odor. The accumulation of bacteria starts once a meal is made. At first glance, the bacteria are still consumable.

However, once the food drops in the temperature danger zone, they will quickly quadruple. But still, this will not manifest any physical change. That is why pizza can still look superb even after weeks.

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? 

Overall, the preparation of pizza is considered unsafe. According to medical professionals, it is not suitable for human consumption. Sometimes, a regular pizza is produced by people with little to no understanding of food safety and standards.

Also, even gloves are used, it is often unsterilized and will transfer bacteria from pizza to the toppings. In addition, the toppings placed and used on pizza can quickly accumulate toxins and collect bacteria such as pork, pepperoni, plus veggies.

On top of that, pizza is nothing without its cheese filling that is more susceptible to germs. This includes mozzarella, parmesan, and provolone. Furthermore, the time spent cooking pizza is not potent enough to kill the existing microorganisms.

After this, the pizza is placed in a closed cardboard box which will further aid the production of microorganisms. Then, once it arrives at our home, we let it sit out for days. Then, we reheat and eat it again.

More specifically, while all in all, pizza should not be left out, you should remember this type of pizza that should not sit out. These include Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, Deep Dish Pizza, Neapolitan Pizza, and New York Style Pizza.

You might also shrug and reheat the pizza to kill the bacteria. However, while it may be true, you should still be meticulous when reheating leftovers. Although the microorganisms are killed, the toxins already formed before will remain intact in the food. Toxins in the pizza can cause symptoms of food poison. To avoid this, always remember that pizza should be stored 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.

Final Thoughts 

We all love pizza. However, 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 extended period at room temperature, you might want to order again than be sorry.

1 thought on “How Long Can Pizza Sit Out? (Safe Storage)”

  1. I ate a slice of pepperoni pizza that had set out all night. I heated it in the microwave about two minutes. About an hour later the cramps & diarrhea started! It’s now been 24 hours and I was back on the toilet about an hour ago! Never again!!!


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