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Romanian Study: Half-Day-Old Snow Is Safe to Eat

FILE - A woman waits between large piles of snow at a bus stop in Bucharest, Romania, Jan. 11, 2017. A study in Romania says snow has a freshness date, of sorts, for consumption.

How safe is it to eat snow? A Romanian university study says it depends upon how fresh it is.

A 2017 experiment showed it was safe to eat snow that was a half-day old, and safer to eat it in the colder months. But by two days old, the snow is not safe to eat, Istvan Mathe, a professor at the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, told The Associated Press.

Scientists collected snow from a park and from a roundabout in Miercurea Ciuc, central Romania, in January and February and placed it in hermetically sealed sterile containers. They then tried to grow bacteria and mold in them.

The study took place in temperatures ranging from minus 1.1 degrees Celsius to minus 17.4 C (30 degrees to 0.7 degree Fahrenheit) in the city, one of the coldest in Romania.

After one day, there were five bacteria per millimeter in January, while in February that number quadrupled.

"Very fresh snow has very little bacteria,'' Mathe said Thursday. "After two days, however, there are dozens of bacteria.''

He said the microorganisms increase because of impurities in the air.

Mathe got the idea for the study when he saw his children eating snow.

"I am not recommending anyone eats snow. Just saying you won't get ill if you eat a bit,'' he said.