Senate committee approves legislation inspired by Troy cupcake baker

News-DemocratMay 13, 2014 

— An Illinois Senate committee on Tuesday gave unanimous approval to legislation prompted by the shutdown of a Troy girl's cupcake-baking operation.

The Senate Public Health Committee passed House Bill 5354 by a vote of 6-0.

There will still be some revisions made to the legislation before it goes to the Senate floor, said Senate sponsor Donne Trotter, D-Chicago.

The legislation, originally filed by Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, is a response to the Madison County Health Department's shutdown of the home-baking operation of Chloe Stirling.

Meier's early version of the bill would have allowed hobby bakers and members of churches, charitable organizations and other groups to make baked goods at home, then sell them to the public without regulation.

But through compromise, the bill that advanced Tuesday would put a few regulations on "home kitchen operations" -- bakers whose monthly sales are less than $1,000:

* The purchaser would have to be informed in writing that the product was made in a home kitchen.

* Labeling on the products would have to include a list of all ingredients and allergens, as well as a warning that the product was baked in a home that was not inspected by a health department.

* The person operating the home kitchen would have to undergo training to obtain a "Food Service Sanitation Management Certificate" from a health department.

* The operation would have to register with the health department and pay a yet-to-be-determined fee.

Trotter said his goal is "trying to protect people" from food-borne illnesses, but added, "I don't foresee that we're going to be raiding lemonade stands or cupcake sales."

Another committee member, Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said that's precisely what would happen with the legislation, as it stands. Syverson said he's concerned about putting regulations on small-scale church bake sales and similar fundraisers.

"The way this is worded here, they're all banned. That's way over the top," Syverson said.

Trotter said he hopes an amendment to the bill will alleviate Syverson's concerns.

Chloe, 12, appeared before the committee Tuesday, carrying two containers of cupcakes. She charmed senators with her testimony.

"I'm here so people like me can bake things out of their home and sell them," she told senators, adding that she hopes to one day have enough money to buy a car.

Asked afterward by reporters if she was trying to sway lawmakers with the cupcakes she brought, Chloe replied: "Maybe."

Chloe's mom, Heather Stirling, said she's OK with the changes that have been made to the bill.

"I think everybody realized that we're all going to have to compromise in some way to make this work," she said.

Heather Stirling said she's willing to take the classes required for a certificate, and pay a reasonable fee for a permit.

"Give me a path for her to take, and we'll take that path," Heather Stirling said.

The labeling requirements, however, could be more difficult to swallow.

"We're willing to work with it, but I don't want every $20 that she makes to be gobbled up by paying for labels to go on every cupcake that leaves our house," Heather Stirling said.

The county health department shut down Chloe's rogue operation after getting a complaint from an adult who was denied permission to sell products baked at home.

CHLOE MEETS QUINN

After the committee meeting, the Stirlings stopped by the office of Gov. Pat Quinn.

Troy Mayor Al Adomite, who accompanied the mother and daughter, said Quinn spoke to the girl about volunteerism, and commended her for sometimes making cupcakes for charitable causes.

"They had a really nice exchange," Adomite said.

The governor took four cupcakes.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511.

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