If you ordered pizza last night and forgot to put it away, it’s seriously not okay to eat a slice for breakfast. Put your pizza in the fridge — and if your late-night, muddled brain forgot to stow it in a colder place, then we beg of you to throw it away in the morning.
That cardboard box isn’t as protective as you might think. There’s literally zero insulation protecting your hot pizza pie. We’re not sure how or why people started doing this, but it’s time the (somewhat obvious) truth came out: Room temperature and cheese do not go well together. When you leave your pizza out of the fridge and let it sit in your slightly-cool apartment air, you expose it to all kinds of food-borne bacteria and allow that bacteria to fester and grow.
The United States Department of Agriculture advises you not to let cooked food — like pizza or other kinds of takeout — sit at room temperature for more than two hours before throwing it away. This is because pathogenic bacteria — i.e., bacteria that can get you sick — breeds best at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Unless your apartment is a sub-freezing environment, it’s the perfect storm for food-borne bacteria.
But, you might think, if the pizza looks and smells okay, it’s probably fine.
Nope. This kind of thinking is exactly what’s going to get you ill — pathogenic bacteria do not typically affect the appearance, smell, or even the taste of food. Even if you decide to test your pie with a risky first bite, the germs could go undetected.
If you care at all about your health, say sayonara to the money you spent on that whole pie and toss the lukewarm leftovers. Instead of relying on that stale slice of pizza for breakfast, consider one of these quick, healthy options instead.