Pie Safety on National Pi Day

National Pi Day is March 14th (3/14) every year.  Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is rounded to 3.14.  It is also the day to celebrate all the delicious pie types: pizza or pastry!

On Pi Day, whichever pie you choose, use simple food safety rules and procedures to keep them delicious and food safe! Also, find pizza pie and other pie-related promotions by using the hashtag #PiDay on social media.

Pi Day or Pie Day?

It turns out there are actually two separate days every year when people come together to celebrate pie: National Pie Day on January 23 and Pi Day on March 14. It’s easy to confuse the two occasions, but here’s a quick breakdown of the two.

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Pi Day

For starters, Pi Day is about much more than stuffing your face with the flaky, fruit-filled desserts. Pi Day is about math, but thankfully, someone made it fun with pies. Best of all, a lot of people tend to celebrate the occasion with pizza, too, which arguably makes Pi Day better than National Pie Day.

In fact, Pi Day is when major restaurant chains — both pie purveyors and pizza joints — and other retailers roll out the best pie and pizza deals.

Pie Day

National Pie Day was created by Charlie Papazian, an American nuclear engineer, craft beer brewer, and author. Mr. Papazian is credited with creating the food holiday in the 1970s — after he audaciously declared his birthday to be National Pie Day. The American Pie Council, has sponsored the holiday since 1986.

Some restaurants — mostly local restaurants and regional chains — end up marking the date with free pie, discounts on pie, and other pie promotions.

Pastry Pies – Food Safety FAQs

Question: After a pie baked, does it have to be refrigerated – or can I leave it at room temperature?
Answer:  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it’s not safe to eat homemade pies with egg-based fillings (including pumpkin pie) that have been allowed to sit at room temperature for two hours or longer.

The reason is that bacteria will grow rapidly when the homemade pie is kept at temperatures between 40° F and 140° F. To prevent foodborne illness, the pie should be refrigerated within two hours. It’s okay to place the pie in the fridge if it’s still warm.

Question: Why are store-bought pies ok when they are left out?
Answer: So why are store-bought pumpkin pies or pecan pies often displayed and sold unrefrigerated? Those pies contain preservatives and shelf-stable ingredients that allow them to be displayed and stored at room temperature. Commercially prepared pies that can be sold at room temperature should display an “RT” label; in any event they should be refrigerated after opening. Once you have cut into the store-bought pies, they should be refrigerated.

Question: If a pie contains milk, cream and or eggs, should it be refrigerated?
Yes. This includes milk and cream in any form – “regular” milk and cream (no matter what the fat content), buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, and evaporated and condensed milk products. Those ingredients contain high levels of protein and moisture that are fertile grounds for the growth of bacteria.

Question: What pies contain milk, cream or eggs?
Answer: Check your recipe. Typically pumpkin and pecan pies do contain eggs, but fruit pies do not. Lemon meringue and all types of chiffon pies contain eggs, so they have to be refrigerated.

Question: How does refrigeration help pies be food safe?
Answer: Refrigeration prevents the growth of bacteria, although not indefinitely as the occasional science experiment at the back of my refrigerator (a/k/a a forgotten container of leftovers from a long forgotten meal) attest.


Pizza Pie Deals

On Pi Day, take advantage of these pizza pie and other pie-related promotions. Offers can vary by location so call ahead to be on the safe side. Also be prepared for restaurants to be busy.

Use #PiDay on social media to find deals!

Happy Pi Day! Whichever pie you choose, use simple food safety rules and procedures to keep them delicious and food safe!