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Friday, 31 January 2014 09:43

Frosted: Health Department Shuts Down 11-year-old’s Cupcake Business

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Until Monday, 11-year-old Chloe Stirling of Troy, Illinois, was an American success story. She goes to school, plays soccer, and has — or, rather, had — not one but two part-time businesses, one of which brought in about $200 a month. The success of her cupcake business, Hey, Cupcake!, caught the attention of the Belleville News-Democrat, which published a story about it on Sunday.

This being 21st-century America, however, such achievement could not go unpunished. And so, on Monday, the Madison County Health Department “called and said they were shutting us down,” Chloe’s mother, Heather Stirling, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Chloe had been selling her cupcakes primarily to friends and family for $10 a dozen or $2 for a specialty cupcake. Her treats proved so popular that she occasionally donated them for fundraisers, including one for a classmate who was suffering from cancer in 2012. Helped by her mom’s generous offer to double whatever she earned, she was saving up for a car at age 16 and, eventually, her own bakery. (She also has a pet-sitting business with about a dozen clients.)

Health department spokeswoman Amy Yeager told St. Louis’ KMOV that her department shuttered Hey, Cupcake! because it violated the county’s food ordinance and the Illinois State Food Sanitation Code. It seems that Chloe, under the mistaken assumption that she lives in a free country, had not first paid for the privilege of selling her cupcakes by getting a permit.

That’s not all. Heather Stirling told the Post-Dispatch that she was willing to pay for a permit or any other licenses necessary to keep Chloe in business. Then the health department bureaucrats dropped another bomb: In order for Chloe to continue hawking her wares, the family would have to “buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have,” Stirling said.

The Stirlings had already gone to the expense of buying a second refrigerator and extra shelving for the business, and Chloe’s grandparents had given her a stand mixer.

“But a separate kitchen?” Stirling asked incredulously. “Who can do that?”

Stirling’s remark inadvertently highlighted one of the main reasons for such regulations: They stifle competition against large, established businesses, who can afford expensive permits and separate kitchens.

Yeager, in typical bureaucrat fashion, insisted the health department was just doing its job in shutting down Hey, Cupcake! “The rules are the rules. It’s for the protection of the public health,” she told the Post-Dispatch, dismissing concerns over the public’s response to her department’s actions.

Not everyone is buying the public-health rationale, however.

Post-Dispatch columnist Pat Gauen dug into the Illinois Food Handling Regulation Act and discovered a loophole: A person is permitted to prepare food, including cake, in his home kitchen for sale to the public provided he sells it at a farmers’ market. “Where is the logic in a law that prevents the sale of Chloe’s cupcakes in one venue but seems to make it perfectly legal to sell them in another?” Gauen perceptively inquired.

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids, also found Yeager’s excuse a bit wanting. “If you are buying cupcakes from a kid, you KNOW they’re not being baked at Entenmann’s headquarters,” she wrote. “And that’s a ‘risk’ you are taking.” Even if one is taking a very small gamble in consuming homemade cupcakes, she added, “a society that doesn’t even allow microscopic risks is a society more obsessed with rules and liabilities than gumption and frosting.”

Besides, if Chloe’s cupcakes ever did start sickening people, they would stop buying from her, and she’d be out of business in a hurry, health department or no health department. Meanwhile, despite the existence of the bureaucracy, people still occasionally get bad food from places that have jumped through all the mandated hoops. Gauen recalled that he’d “suffered a nasty case of food poisoning on Thanksgiving — probably from buffet food at a very nice restaurant in Wisconsin,” though, oddly, he hastened to praise the health department “watchdogs” for “keeping us safe.”

It is to be hoped that Chloe can get her business up and running again in spite of the government’s hurdles. But time is money, and she’s already lost out on some significant business. Her mom told KMOV that Chloe “received an additional 12 or 14 orders on Sunday after the article ran, and she couldn’t fill any of them” after the health department’s crackdown. In the future, customers may be wary of placing orders that might also go unfilled should the bureaucrats take a notion to cite Chloe for some other infraction of their Byzantine regulations.

And surely the next time this young lady hears “The Star-Spangled Banner,” she will cringe a little at the notion that the United States is “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” No, we’re a bunch of micromanaged drones so fearful of the slightest risk that a girl with traits we should be encouraging instead sees her dreams shattered the moment she gets her first taste of success.

4 comments

  • Comment Link rprew Sunday, 02 February 2014 17:49 posted by rprew

    Health risks? Odds are that Chloe's cupcakes carry a lesser risk than those from Entenmann’s! Probably taste better, too! Can you pronounce everything in the list of ingredients from a commercial bakery? Do you even know what half that stuff is?

    The shelf life of a commercial cupcake is about the same as grandma's embalmed body, and for much the same reason.

  • Comment Link Michael Dalene Saturday, 01 February 2014 20:19 posted by Michael Dalene

    Everyone that is anyone KNOWS that opening a business and conducting business, even the so-called 'illegal' Drug Trade is a RIGHT... "so-called government laws" only apply to corporations which pay a fee for a license ('license' by legal definition is permission to commit a crime) which in turn entitles them to certain exemptions which private businesses that are unincorporated or "unlicensed" do not enjoy; among these 'special privileges' are limited criminal and civil liability...

    I wonder what our Fellow Americans would have said to the Founding Father's had they been told that We will commit Treason against King George in the Name of Liberty but impose his same Rule upon you ourselves?

    My question is: If any other government/force on Earth imposed itself upon us as does our own government(s) would not the greater majority oppose them with Armed Force? So why would a self-Professed "American?" WHOSE DUTY is to "throw-off" such government permit such a disgrace?

    Voting s a Right- not a Duty... THE ONLY DUTY EVERY MAN/AMERICAN HAS IS WHEN THEIR GOVERNMENTS ACTIONS HAVE PROVEN TO BE " (But when) a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--"

    CAN YOU READ? IT SAYS "it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government,..." So long as you call yourself an AMERICAN it is your DUTY to throw-off the government(s) that oppose Constitutional Law--- and doing so is not an act of Treason or Sedition; IT IS YOUR DUTY AS AN AMERICAN!

  • Comment Link Robert Morrow Saturday, 01 February 2014 14:34 posted by Robert Morrow

    The Progressive Liberals Corrupt Bureaucrats had fear of the little girls cooking. Yet I noticed that they did not mention the FDA approval of thousands of Toxic Poison used in the giant food processors foods. Items like poison bread additives: Human hair, chicken feathers, and high-fructose corn syrup--If you eat package bread from the supermarket, these ingredients have likely been in it. In fact, plenty of packaged breads sold in the United States are actually BANNED in other parts of the world. Here are 5 ingredients to look for at the store: L-cysteine, Potassium bromate, Refined grains,AZODICARBONAMIDE, High Fructose Corn Syrup. This only covers a few of the approved poisons that you feed your children daily. Yet, these corrupt Petty Bureaucrats will never mention this for it might cut into the Payola used to grease the palms of the Bureaucrats and Politicians. Oh, by the way if you have no idea what these products are just do a little research and then if you see them listed put the poisons back on the shelf.

  • Comment Link Ibn Insha Saturday, 01 February 2014 03:05 posted by Ibn Insha

    I am sick and tired of government, at all levels, that is concerned with my well being. It is all because of people who want government to tell them how to take their next step in exchange for freebies and irresponsibility for their own actions or inaction. I consider them traitors of our constitution and I want to treat them the way traitors are treated.

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