If you think the freezer is a safe defense against foodborne illness, think again. Frozen foods still come with a risk of contamination – and this includes frozen pizzas.
Frozen pizza that is not stored, thawed, or cooked properly can cause food poisoning. Frozen pizzas should always be frozen at 0 °F (-18 °C), thawed in the fridge at 40 °F (4.4 °C), and cooked according to package instructions.
What else can cause food poisoning from frozen pizza, and have been there any recalls? Find out below!
Can You Get Food Poisoning From Frozen Pizzas?
Freezing doesn’t kill pathogenic bacteria and other microorganisms. It simply stops them from multiplying.
Food stored in the freezer at 0 °F (-18 °C) for a long time should be safe. However, its quality will deteriorate the longer it is stored (source: USDA).
A freezing temperature of 0 °F (-18 °C) will inactivate microbes like bacteria, molds, and yeast. However, they can be activated given the right conditions, and this may result in food poisoning.
Once these microbes are re-activated, they will grow at the same rate as they would in fresh food. Therefore, you need to treat frozen pizza with care, the same way you would fresh foods (source: USDA).
With this said, it is safe to thaw food in the refrigerator, provided that the temperature of the refrigerator is 40 °F (4.4 °C) or below. Once thawed, the pizza will keep for 3–4 days.
If you thaw the frozen pizza at room temperature or leave it outside the refrigerator for more than two hours, then you should throw it away. Any food that is outside the refrigerator for more than two hours may be compromised (source: University of Minnesota Extension).
Contamination can also take place in frozen pizzas when the ingredients have been contaminated beforehand, or when the pizzas were mishandled in the processing plant.
It is crucial, therefore, to thoroughly cook frozen pizzas according to package instructions. Most frozen pizzas contain cheese, processed meat like pepperoni, and fresh vegetables like bell pepper or tomato. These ingredients will fully cook if you follow package instructions.
In France, the Buitoni brand Fraîch’Up pizza was reported to be contaminated with shiga toxin-producing E. coli O26 (STEC). All pizzas sold since June 2021, with expiration dates from June 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, were recalled.
There were 75 reported infections, mostly children, with cases of pediatric hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Two children, unfortunately, didn’t survive (source: Food Safety News).
Although there has been no recent microbial contamination in the U.S., there was a recent metal contamination.
Around August 2022, the frozen pizza brand Home Run Inn Chicago’s Premium Pizzeria Deluxe Sausage Classic Pizza, with a Best By date of 12/03/22 and a weight of 33.5 ounces, was recalled due to contamination with foreign matter, including metals.
According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA, the products were shipped to an Illinois distributor and distributed to retailers. Fortunately, there were no reported side effects (source: USDA).
For the latest news on recalls and public health safety, you can visit the USDA website or the Food Safety News website for news on recalls and public health safety updates.
Can You Get Food Poisoning From Undercooked or Raw Frozen Pizza?
Most frozen pizzas sold today are not cooked or pre-cooked, so you need to be sure to follow the cooking instructions on the package.
Raw flour can make you sick. Processed meat, cheese, and vegetables used to make frozen pizza can also be contaminated by bacteria.
I Think Frozen Pizza Made Me Sick: What Should I Do?
According to NHS, the most important thing to do if you have food poisoning is to drink a lot of water and make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Food poisoning isn’t usually very serious, and you can probably treat yourself at home (source: NHS). Usually, symptoms last from hours to days.
Severe cases may require hospitalization and can cause long-term health problems like hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), kidney failure, brain damage, or chronic arthritis.
Contact the nearest hospital if you have bloody diarrhea, high fever, unbearable pain, or frequent vomiting.
You can also let your local health department know. This will help public health officials identify a possible foodborne illness outbreak and prevent others from getting sick (source: CDC).
In conclusion, the most important way to decrease the risk of getting food poisoning from frozen pizza is to handle, store, thaw, and cook it properly.