We have all been to a pizza party right? Where pizza just sits out on the counter or table for people to grab as they want. Well just how long can pizza sit out before it is no longer good?
According to the USDA, any perishable food is at risk of food-borne illness when food sits out anywhere from 40 degrees to 140 degrees. In between those temperatures is what they call the “danger zone”. Bacteria such as E.coli or salmonella starts to grow between those temperatures.
Use the two-hour rule to be safe when you have pizza sitting out at room temperature. If it has been longer than that you should toss whatever is left.
Now, keep in mind that if you are outside and it’s hot then 2 hours is even too long.
If it’s a hot summer day you should only leave pizza out for an hour or so. Also, keep in mind that if it’s cold in your house or apartment the pizza will cool off faster also which brings the temperature of your pizza into the “danger zone” faster as well.
Foodborne illnesses double every 20 minutes that your perishable food is within the danger zone. No perishable foods are good left out, and pizza is definitely perishable despite what many college kids might say.
Their steel stomachs or good immune systems lead them to think it’s still good the morning after a long night of sitting on the counter. You might get lucky and not get sick but I wouldn’t take a chance.
How to keep pizza within the safe zone
For some reason, someone came up with the genius idea that pizza should be delivered in a cardboard box. Whatever their reason, pizza boxes really don’t keep pizza hot. There is no insulation benefit at all to using cardboard.
It’s important to think about the temperature of your pizza when you get a delivery. How long has it been in the car? How many deliveries were before yours?
You might want to consider checking the temperature of the pizza when you get it. This will help you determine how long you should leave it out.
If it’s already under 140 degrees you may want to put it in the refrigerator sooner than 2 hours. Or if you aren’t ready to serve it you can always stick it in the oven to keep it above 140 degrees until you are ready.
How to store pizza
When storing pizza in the fridge you want to put it in a tightly sealed container or bag. Though there aren’t any health hazards to storing your pizza in the box it came in but it dries out very fast.
Keeping it in a sealed container will keep the moisture in and allow for much better tasting pizza when it is reheated. Pizza will stay good in the fridge for three to four days. After that I would throw it away.
You can store your leftover pizza in the freezer as well. Again, you want a tightly sealed container or bag to keep it from drying out. Frozen leftover pizza with last about 2 months.