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How to use your pizza pouch the food safety way

The pizza pouch: just one of many gag gifts to go viral on the Internet.

These clear, plastic, zip-locked triangular pouches hung from lanyards are worn around the neck and are the perfect size to carry a single slice of pizza. Whether as a fashion statement or to provide a tasty snack on-the-go, the idea is that you have a fresh slice of pizza on your person throughout the day.

But wait a minute! How effective is a plastic pouch at ensuring freshness — and food safety — throughout the day? The last thing you want is for your little pizza paradise to turn into a food poisoning nightmare.

Ideally, cooked food should only be left at room temperature for two hours. If it’s a hot summer day, with a temperature above 90°F, you should really only keep food out of the fridge for one hour. This is because bacteria, including foodborne pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, multiply rapidly in the “danger zone” of 40°F and 140°F. Between those temperatures, the amount of bacteria can double every 20 minutes.

So, this means your anchovy-topped accessory should only be worn for a short period of time, unless you happen to be spending your day in a walk-in cooler. If you can’t make it to a fridge in time to save your snack, you should just throw the slice out once you’re done wearing it.

Another concern is sanitation. Naturally, you will want to re-use your pizza pouch many times, but effectively cleaning the tight corners and zip-lock grooves is tricky. Make sure you wash the pouch thoroughly with hot, soapy water after use, removing all traces of cheese, grease, or fallen-off olives and pepperonis. It might help to open the pouch wide and fully submerge it in water. Rinse and dry the pouch completely to finish up.

Before you accessorize with this latest hot trend, be sure to take the above into consideration, and you can prevent your outfit from becoming something that gives you a foodborne illness.

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