Can pizza go bad in the fridge? (3 obvious signs)
In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Can pizza go bad in the fridge?”. We will also discuss what causes pizza to go bad in the fridge, how you can store it, and how to tell if your pizza has gone bad.
Can pizza go bad in the fridge?
Yes, pizza can go bad in the fridge. Several factors can cause pizza to go bad, including the ingredients, improper storage conditions and microbial growth (1).
If you keep your pizza in the fridge at the proper temperature, it will last for up to 4 days. It is safe to eat as long as you keep it chilled below 40 °C. If you spot any sign of microbial growth, discard it (1,2).
What causes pizza to go bad in the fridge?
Pizza can go bad in the fridge due to several factors (3,4,5,6):
Ingredients: Different ingredients have distinct physicochemical characteristics, like pH level and moisture content. Because of this, those ingredients will spoil at different times.
Moisture: Moisture migration from toppings, such as tomato sauces, vegetables, and meats, can lead to textural changes.
Microbial growth: Bacteria or moulds can thrive on diverse ingredients, especially high-moisture ones, leading to spoilage and potential foodborne illness.
Oxidative reactions: The fats in cheese and meats can undergo oxidative reactions, leading to off-flavours and rancidity.
Storage conditions: High temperatures or improper sealing can accelerate spoilage. Store pizza at a low temperature to minimize that process.
How can you store pizza in the fridge?
To properly store pizza in the fridge, begin by placing paper towels at the container’s base to absorb excess moisture. Place the pizza piece in the container and seal it to minimize exposure to air. Then, put the container in the coldest part of the fridge. Refrigerate the pizza at 40 °F (4 °C) for up to 3-4 days (1,7).
You can also freeze pizza to preserve it for a longer period. You just need to place the airtight container with the pizza in the freezer at -18 °C. Frozen pizza can last for about 2 months. But keep in mind that freezing can cause texture and quality changes (7,8).
Never leave pizza out of the fridge for more than 2 hours between 40 °F and 140 °F, as pathogenic microorganisms can grow rapidly at room temperature. Make sure to refrigerate any leftover pizza within 2 hours to avoid any contamination (5).
How to tell if your pizza has gone bad?
To tell if pizza has gone bad, you can observe changes, such as physical, sensory, and microbial (9).
If the texture of the pizza has become excessively soggy or dry, it might be compromised.
Visually inspect for signs of mould, especially on toppings or crust edges, and check for an off-colour appearance, like blush-green blotches.
If you feel an unpleasant or sour odour, is a clear indicator of spoilage due to microbial growth.
What happens if you consume spoiled pizza?
If you consume spoiled pizza you may get foodborne illness because pizza that has gone bad may have been contaminated during storage or cooking by bacteria, including Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Staphylococcus aureus (10).
Symptoms of foodborne illness include (10):
- Abdominal cramps
Moulds can also be hazardous to your health, some species of moulds, like Aspergillus, Alternaria, Penicillium and others, can produce mycotoxins which are very dangerous to human health, causing allergic reactions or worse effects (11).
In this brief article, we answered the question “Can pizza go bad in the fridge?”. We also discussed what causes pizza to go bad in the fridge, how you can store it, and how to tell if your pizza has gone bad.
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USDA. Refrigeration & Food Safety. 2015.
Coorey R, et al. The impact of cooling rate on the safety of food products as affected by food containers. Compr. Rev. Food Sci, 2018, 17, 827-840.
Roccato A, Uyttendaele M, Membré JM. Analysis of domestic refrigerator temperatures and home storage time distributions for shelf-life studies and food safety risk assessment. Food Res Int, 2017, 96, 171-181.
USDA. How Temperatures Affect Food. 2020.
Ferrari CKB. Oxidação lipídica em alimentos e sistemas biológicos: mecanismos gerais e implicações nutricionais e patológicas. Revista De Nutrição, 1998, 11(1), 3–14.
USDA. Safe Handling of Take-Out Foods. 2013.
USDA. Freezing and Food Safety. 2013
USDA. What are the signs of food spoilage?. 2023.
USDA. What are Mycotoxins?. 2018.