Is It Okay to Leave Out Leftover Pizza?

If you’ve ever left pizza sitting out all night and wondered if it’s still OK to eat in the morning, here is a short guide to what you should do with your leftover pizza.

Can You Eat Left Out Leftover Pizza?

The short answer to this question is “no.” Pizza is usually made with meat and cheese, which if left out for too long can become a breeding ground for bacteria. If you eat pizza or any heated food that has been sitting out for too long you risk food poisoning, salmonella or worse. This doesn’t mean that you will necessarily get sick if you eat pizza that has been left out, but you run the risk every time you do it.

The Two Hour Rule

Food such as pizza is safe when it is kept at a temperature of less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Any time you have pizza that is between 40 and 140 degrees, the USDA recommends leaving it out for no more than 2 hours. After 2 hours of more than 40 degrees and less than 140 degrees, you run the risk of getting sick. Remember that your pizza will be less than 140 degrees for a significant amount of time before you eat it, depending on how long it took to pick it up or for it to be delivered, so you’ll likely want to put it away long before you reach that 2 hour magic point.

If you need your pizza to keep for longer than 2 hours, such as for a party or some other gathering, put it in your oven and keep the temperature at 140 degrees. You should be able to keep your pizza in there for as long as you need it before putting it away.

What to Do with Leftover Pizza

The proper storage of leftover pizza would be to put it in the refrigerator within 2 hours of the time it was baked. You can certainly store your pizza in the refrigerator in the box it came in, but for the best results, wrap it in foil or put it in an airtight container. You can store pizza in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days before you’ll want to consider throwing it out. To store for longer than that, keep it in the freezer. You can store pizza in the freezer indefinitely, although for the best quality, you should eat it before 2 months has passed.

Remember this the next time you reach for a slice of cold pizza that has been left out for more than 2 hours. You may not get sick by eating it, but you’re more than certainly playing Russian roulette with your health if you do. Stay on the safe side and throw out pizza that has been left out. Or better yet, make sure it makes it to the refrigerator.


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