By Steve Large

DAVIS (CBS13) — An unusual idea to cut down on food waste has drawn the ire of the Yolo County health department.

Grabbing a snack has never been so controversial. On a front lawn in Davis is a food-sharing refrigerator, now banned by Yolo County.

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Ernst Bertone and his roommates broke the law, according to the health department, when they put a refrigerator on their lawn with a sign reading “Take what you need, leave what you don’t.”

The UC Davis students’ experiment proved a success as people shared.

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Bertone and his roommates charted it all, posting photos of the food people put in the communal fridge and what they took out. They kept a database that showed 122 items were shared over 30 days.

The neighbors liked it and even used it. But someone complained, prompting the health department to shut down the sharing fridge. The rationale? The open refrigerator doesn’t assure safe and pure food, and it can lead to people getting sick.

“The law just hasn’t thought of something like this before I think. It;s a new idea,” said Eric Yen.

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For now, it’s a new idea that’s against the law, leaving the fridge off the lawn and out of order.