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County panel pushes cupcake law

August 30, 2018

A proposal to allow small home-based bakeries in Kankakee County is moving forward.

On Tuesday, members of the county board’s executive committee gave a thumbs up to a “cupcake law,” despite the top county health official’s opposition.

The proposed law next goes to the full county board for consideration.

A few years ago, the state passed a law letting counties enact ordinances allowing small home businesses to sell nonhazardous foods without licenses or training, as long as they make no more than $1,000 per year.

Under the state cupcake law, the county can only get involved with home bakeries when there are complaints or foodborne outbreaks.

“By then, it’s too late,” said John Bevis, the county’s health department administrator.

Bevis said he opposed a cupcake law because it would contain no requirement for training. He said he also would be concerned about the spread of foodborne illnesses.

Bevis also said an existing law allows people to sell homemade food at farmers markets, as long as they are licensed and trained.

Board member Jim Byrne, R-Bourbonnais, asked Bevis whether he knew of any foodborne outbreaks from home-based bakeries in the past. Bevis said he did not.

Byrne, who calls himself a libertarian, said government shouldn’t get in the way of home-based bakeries. Instead, buyers beware, he said.

“Is it up to the county board to tell a private citizen what they can or cannot do when a law is on state books?” Byrne said.

Others also expressed reservations.

“I never got sick on my mom’s cookies or cakes,” said member Michael LaGesse, D-Bradley, calling the ban on home bakeries “an overreach.”

Member Jim Tripp, R-Bourbonnais, said he didn’t think he could support a cupcake law, basing his opinion on the health department’s advice.

“I don’t want to stick my neck out on something you cautioned us on,” Tripp told Bevis.

The committee voted 8-4 for the cupcake law.

In the audience was Brooke Love, a Bradley resident who asked the county last month to pass the law. She said she wanted a home bakery that she eventually could expand into a full-fledged business.

After the county board approves it, Love would need to get a cupcake law passed in her village.

Bradley village board member Lori Gadbois, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said she believed the board would enact such a law.

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