Local 11-year-old girl could get new kitchen to operate cupcake business

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by Chris Stanford / News 4 | @StanfordKMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 11:48 AM

 (KMOV) -- Chloe Stirling’s family is contemplating solutions that would allow them to legally restart her cupcake business, while the county health department holds firm on its action to keep Hey Cupcake! from operating until the family has a licensed kitchen. 

The 11-year-old was shut down in January after a local newspaper published an article highlighting her love for baking cupcakes and how popular her treats had become.  That article also mentioned Chloe was selling the cupcakes from the family’s Troy, Il home.  The Madison County Health Department said since Chloe was not operating out of a licensed establishment, she could no longer sell cupcakes because of public health reasons. 

During the Madison County Health Department Committee meeting Tuesday States Attorney Tom Gibbons came for the sole purpose of offering a solution that would allow Chloe to get back to business.

“If I see a change in the law that can make a positive difference for people, that’s something I want to get involved in,” says Gibbons.

Gibbons is proposing that Illinois lawmakers amend the Cottage Food Section of the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act.  The Act regulates state residents that sell food at farmers markets.  Gibbons says he will be lobbying state lawmakers to amend that law to also include selling food from someone’s home where it is prepared, under the same guidelines as farmers markets.

“That would be the perfect solution,” says Chloe’s mother, Heather Stirling, about Gibbon’s proposal.

Gibbons met with the Stirling family and health officials Monday at the family’s home to discuss options for Chloe and her cupcakes. 

The family is considering adding another kitchen to the house where the family could bake and operate the business.  The community has been donating to this possible development, but Heather Stirling says the family is not quite set on building. Stirling says she understands the health departments reasoning for shutting down Hey Cupcake! but she was hoping for some leeway during the meeting at her home.

“If they’re not willing to offer solutions for a talented, motivated girl then I have issues with that,” says Heather Stirling.

County health department officials say they are simply enforcing a state law.

“At the county health department we don’t have the ability to bend the rules,” says Madison County Public Health Administrator Toni Corona.

Stirling says she has a good understanding of everything that needs to happen in order to add a licensed kitchen to her home, but trying to comply with the law and pleasing her daughter is overwhelming.

“I’m saying, work with her,” Sterling adds.

Others have also rallied to support Chloe and the Stirlings.  State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) is drafting legislation that would let Chloe sell her cupcakes again from the family’s house.  The legislations would allow the sale of baked goods from a home kitchen, as long as monthly gross sales do not exceed $1,000, the food is not a potentially hazardous baked food, and a notice is provided to the purchaser that the product was produced in a home kitchen.

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