Eating Pizza Left Out Overnight: Is It Safe?

Can you eat pizza left out overnight? It's one of the most common questions we hear from pizza lovers here at Hungry Howie's®. It happens to all of us. We order a large pizza with every intention of finishing it for dinner, but it just doesn't happen. Then, we wake up the next morning to find that we've forgotten to put the leftovers in the fridge and they have been on the counter all night. But those slices still look oh-so-tempting and delicious, and we can't help wanting to eat them. So, can you eat pizza left out overnight or is it dangerous? We're here to provide you with the answer.

Can You Eat Pizza Left Out Overnight?

Unfortunately, as mouthwatering as those leftover slices may look in the morning if you accidentally leave pizza out on the counter overnight it's best to throw it away. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), bacteria begin to accumulate on food after being left at room temperature for just two hours. To avoid bacteria accumulation, food must be kept in a strict temperature-controlled environment. It must be either over or under a certain temperature at all times.

What that means is that the pie you left out overnight has spent hours gathering bacteria. While you can't see these bacteria with the naked eye, they are there nonetheless. When you consume pizza that has been sitting on the counter overnight, you consume the bacteria that's been growing on it too. This increases your chance of contracting a foodborne illness–or getting what many people commonly refer to as food poisoning. 

While the effects are not likely to cause serious lasting illness, consuming food that has accumulated dangerous bacteria can certainly cause unpleasant side effects. These include nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal issues. Eating that left out leftover slice could keep you in bed for the day, something that nobody wants. 

What to Do with Leftover Pizza

Instead of leaving pizza out on the counter overnight, when you package and store it properly leftover pizza can actually last in the fridge for up to four days. This is a much better alternative to having to toss last night's slices. Then, you can reheat pizza either in the oven or microwave–whatever your method of choice. 

If you find yourself staring at a few leftover slices of pizza, asking yourself "can you eat pizza left out overnight?" it's time to start eying the refrigerator instead. You can either wrap your leftover pizza in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and store it at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or place it in an airtight storage container or Tupperware to store in the fridge. You can even freeze those leftover slices using the same method, which will keep them good for up to three months. That leftover pizza doesn't have to go to waste!

Reheating Your Leftover Pizza

Can you eat pizza left out overnight if you reheat it? This is another common question we hear, as many people believe that returning the food to a proper temperature will kill off any bacteria that has accumulated. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, and reheating pizza left out overnight may still pose a medical risk. It's best to throw the pizza away if you realize that you have left it out overnight. 

However, if you have leftover slices waiting for you in the fridge or freezer, you're in luck. Reheating cold pizza is simple, takes just a few minutes, and is perfectly safe. If your slices are frozen, you'll need the defrost them in the refrigerator before reheating for the best results–this can take 8-12 hours. If your slices are straight out of the fridge, simply pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, place the individual slices on a baking sheet, and pop them in the oven to ten to fifteen minutes. 

It's also important to note that even if your leftover slices fall within the timeframe deemed "safe" to eat them, there are signs that you should throw them away regardless. If you notice that the pizza has any green mold or discoloration, or if it has a strong odor, toss it right away. 

Order a Fresh Pie for Delivery or Carry Out

Can you eat pizza left out overnight? Science says no, it's best to throw it away and grab a fresh pie if you're still in the mood for pizza. Order now and get fast, affordable pizza delivery or carry-out from Hungry Howie's® today to satisfy that pizza craving. You can order online for delivery or give us a call. If you're in the neighborhood stop on by to grab your order in-person, or request delivery and we'll bring your delicious fresh pie straight to your door.