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Cupcake grandstanding

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014

* AP

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the so-called “cupcake bill” introduced after a young girl’s home baking operation was shut down by regulations.

Quinn’s office says he’ll sign the bill Tuesday in 12-year-old Chloe Stirling’s home in Troy as he salutes her “for making a difference.” […]

Madison County health officials shut down the $200-a-month operation in January after concluding her kitchen wasn’t a commercial one requiring such things as a permit and inspection. She also hadn’t taken a mandatory health safety course.

* Tribune

“When all of this started, we didn’t know what to do,” Chloe Stirling said in a release from Quinn’s office. “In the end, we made it work so lots of home cooks can do what they love just like me.”

Quinn thanked Chloe for standing up for small entrepreneurs. “Democracy is for everyone and I salute Chloe Stirling for getting involved and making a difference for a cause she believes in,” he said. […]

Senate Republicans released a statement applauding Quinn for signing the bill, but contending his administration fought against it until a public outcry forced them to relent.

* From one of those statements…

Governor Pat Quinn is planning to sign legislation inspired by Chloe Stirling, better known as “Cupcake Girl”, at a ceremony at the girl’s house on Tuesday. State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) voted for the measure that passed the Senate.

“The bill that passed is good legislation and I applaud the Governor for planning to sign it,” said Barickman. “But the reality is that Quinn’s own agency fought this common-sense measure from the beginning. He shouldn’t be trying to taking credit for a process that his administration was on the wrong side of.” […]

The House passed legislation to exempt businesses earning less than $1000 per month from the onerous rules, but allowed health departments to investigate in the event of complaints or an outbreak. But when the measure reached the Senate, Quinn’s Department of Public Health pushed one of his allies to alter the bill.

“Quinn’s rules would have required every youngster like Chloe to have expensive and unnecessary training, permits, licensing and labelling,” said Barickman “This would have completely undone the common-sense reforms passed in the House. This was the opposite of good government at work.”

Luckily for Chloe and other young entrepreneurs everywhere, a public outcry led by Senate Republicans was able to kill the new version of the legislation in the Senate. The Governor’s ally was eventually pressured to call the original unchanged measure, which easily passed.

“What we ended up with is a good compromise that stops an unneeded government overreach,” said Barickman. “But Quinn shouldn’t be posing as a hero here when his agency’s actions put this whole process in jeopardy. I understand he wants to appear to be on the side of the public, but he really shouldn’t be using this legislation, or this wonderful young girl, in such a transparently political way.”

He’s right that IDPH darned near killed the bill, but Quinn is the one who stepped in and ordered the amendment withdrawn. Plus, he met with the cupcake girl on May 13th, long before the Senate vote.

Just about everybody in Springfield grandstanded on this bill. And nobody has yet spoken about the fact that municipalities can still ban these sales, including Madison County, where Chloe lives.

* But here’s some much needed perspective

“I’m not endorsing giving business a free pass, but regulators should be focused on consumer issues that affect a broad swath of the public,” says Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen, a consumer organization.

Exactly right.

* There was so much grandstanding over a little girl and her cupcakes that I bet you didn’t even notice this story from May

Morgan’s Meat Market in Mattoon, Ill., is recalling approximately 216 pounds of uninspected ground beef products.

Under state and federal regulations, meat products produced without the benefit of inspection are considered unfit for human consumption and are required to be recalled,

* Or this one from May

Despite all these warnings in pharmaceutical ads, a lawsuit in federal court in East St. Louis alleges that the German manufacturer of a blood thinner called Pradaxa did not warn people enough. The suit claims the drug has killed 500 people and hurt 4,000 more.

The company tentatively settled the case this week, for $650 million. The deal still requires that 95 percent of the plaintiffs, whose suits were consolidated, join U.S. District Judge David Herndon in endorsing it.

In any event, this doesn’t mean the end of Pradaxa. The drug, available in the U.S. since 2010, remains approved for sale.

* Or even this one from February

Some 8.7 million pounds of meat from a Northern California company have been recalled because they came from “diseased and unsound” animals that weren’t properly inspected, a federal agency announced Saturday. […]

The government agency noted there are no reported illnesses tied to these products, which went to distribution centers and retail establishments in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas. It was not immediately clear which companies got them, or whether they ended up being sold in some form at any markets or restaurants.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


26 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    The cupcake dealio is a sideshow of a sideshow.

    But you really don’t want to go on the cheap when it comes to regulation of food, water and pharmaceuticals.

    Caveat emptor can kill you.


  2. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    Quinn is a raving genius…too bad Mitt Rauner could not be so clever


  3. - Doi Chef - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    Rich, you make it sound like Quinn killed the amended version in the Senate. He may have conceded to withdraw it, but that was not before it got carved up like a turkey. The vote was overwhelmingly in opposition. Aside from that, we all know that we need to have food safety regulations, but bureaucrats take it way too far. Testimony showed it would have cost Chloe over $250 to get a permit and that doesn’t count the upgrade of a kitchen she would need. Common sense prevailed here, although — as typical in Springfield, it was tweaked to try and apease everyone and could potentially still be a skunk.


  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Of course it’s grandstanding. That’s one of the advantages of incumbency.


  5. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:27 am:

    We are a nation of fat people who are no longer dying off from tainted foods. Look. We won. Stop panicking over news that this or that restaurant, food corporation, or drug manufacturer has suddenly poisoned unsuspecting consumers. Most of that news comes from their business competition, trying to scare consumers into buying their products.

    Back up. Look at the big picture. See people dropping over from tainted hamburger? We consumer billions of tons of that oozy stuff without dying en masse.

    We’ve taken food regulations to a level unseen since royalty had tasters. Considering the massive sizes of our bellies and wallets - we got those old kings and queens beat, a million times over.

    Chill on the cupcakes, you wackos!


  6. - sal-says - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    Or these:

    NBC News has an article by JoNel Aleccia titled: “Norovirus: Think Restaurants, Not Cruise Ships, CDC Says” which you can see at: tinyurl.com/n5ebnx6.

    UPI has an article by Alex Cukan titled: “20 million get sick each year from norovirus — stomach flu — in the United States - Norovirus is extremely contagious, with an estimated infectious dose as low as 18 viral particles — the amount on the head of a pin could sicken more than 1,000 people.” which you can see at: tinyurl.com/mey6j2z.

    So probably not bake sales, cupcakes nor lemonade stands? It’s Restaurants: Regulated & inspected. How about that?!


  7. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    The cupcakes of Illinois Good and True…

    Wonder if he will ask her if she has an all soy one…


  8. - Judgment Day (on the road) - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    First off, all those three recalls mentioned were federal (2 - USDA; 1 - FDA). These wouldn’t have been local health department ‘catches’ anyway.

    So, honestly, sort of a ’straw man’ issue, as the locals virtually never get involved in these types of situations.

    There is a serious problem here, but it’s not legislative related. It’s in the approach to the entire recall process, which is firmly grounded in a 1980’s and technology that is at least 20 years out of date.

    Just as a btw, the last 10 fbi (food borne illness) ‘events’ involved the following foods:

    http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/12/the-10-biggest-u-s-outbreaks-of-2013/#.U5chvSjPsuQ

    The truth is that most of those recalls mentioned foods that not only had already gone into the food distribution chain, but had also either already been used or discarded (most of the time, used).

    The recall alerts weren’t timely. And honestly, wouldn’t really matter, because the entire recall process from start to finish has a case of ‘the slows’. And that is from direct experience of dealing with not only USDA, but the entire process.

    The process needs help, but it’s not more legislation. Some more money would help, but really, it’s more a changed approach that is needed. And bureaucracies don’t like to change.


  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    VMan, if ignorance is bliss, you’re one happy fella.

    http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/


  10. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    ===First off, all those three recalls mentioned were federal===

    Nope.


  11. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    @VMan:

    I certainly hope your comment about food regulations are limited to the cupcake issue. Otherwise you sound like a lunatic who thinks food regulations are a bad thing.


  12. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    - Norseman - has been the voice of reason from jump street.

    Well thought, rational, understanding the big picture.

    I like cupcakes, I love Cannoli, I understand the optics, and - Norseman - understands the reality.


  13. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    One reason we are a fat nation is the routine adding of antibiotics to factory farm raised beef, pork and chicken. This practice enhances weight gain in humans AND promotes the evolution of drug resistant bacteria.

    A genuine lose-lose scenario arising from a lack of sensible regulations.


  14. - McLean Farmboy - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    I wonder how many of the folks wringing their hands over cupcake girl supported SB3380 that would make the very same cupcakes, if sold at a farmer’s market, under even less local control than this law does.


  15. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    I’d buy it!
    Then I’d give her a compliment and a big tip!


  16. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    VMan, if ignorance is bliss, you’re one happy fella.

    I’m not ignorant, but I am pretty happy!


  17. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    I am a strong supporter of public health.

    However, I think we all realize that when you buy cupcakes or lemonade from a kid’s stand, or cookies at a church bake sale, it is at your own risk.


  18. - Judgment Day (on the road) - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    “===First off, all those three recalls mentioned were federal===”

    First one listed is really hard to say (Mattoon, IL). The big USDA May, 2014 recall for ground beef is here:

    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/recall-case-archive/archive/2014/recall-030-2014

    Most of the ground beef went into the distribution channel, and GFS has handled most of it (and has done an extremely good job at notifying their end users of the recall). The USDA does not tend to make end user listings available in those cases. Btw, USDA compiled list of affected food items in that recall is massive.

    If the recall is IL Dept. of AG, great - one more set of eyeballs on the process.

    The Pradaxa lawsuit isn’t a recall (yet), but it does have 15 FDA Medwatch items going all the way back to October, 2011. Kind of controversial.

    http://google2.fda.gov/search?q=pradaxa&filter=0&proxystylesheet=FDAgov&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%253AD%253AL%253Ad1&site=FDAgov-MedWatch-Safety&requiredfields=-archive%3AYes&client=FDAgov

    In IL, we have three breaking points with food safety:
    1) Cook County/City of Chicago. It works - somehow, kinda/sorta, well, maybe. But there are serious issues, but everybody just kind of ignores them. Very fragmented, most people are too busy just trying to make it all work.
    2) The Collars/Outer Collars. Almost all County driven (few exceptions, like Elgin). Different set of issues, Staffing, temporary events, and competing service needs (private well and septic).
    3) Downstate. Staffing, many health departments downstate are ‘resolution’ (not ‘referendum’) so finances are always an issue, competing service needs (private well and septic, etc.) are always a big issue.


  19. - Mason born - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    I actually thought this bill was a decent compromise. If i go to a bake sale at a church and buy a pie from Little old lady Edith. Shouldn’t i expect that it hasn’t been inspected by the county? 1K sounds like a decent ceiling before requiring some serious inspections and regs. At some point common sense needs to apply.


  20. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Good for Chloe. I’m glad this worked out for her. Quite an experience at her age.


  21. - x ace - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    If the food was bad at Firemen’s Fish Frys , Chicken Dinners the Church ,Cake Walks at Old Settlers , Pie Auction at Fall Festival, or at the Old Creek Chowder we’d have a lot Less Politicians ( downstate , anyway you ain’t gonna get elected unless you hit em all )


  22. - WAK - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    ===He’s right that IDPH darned near killed the bill, but Quinn is the one who stepped in and ordered the amendment withdrawn.===

    I do not know for sure but my experience and guts tells me that is not accurate, I think it was the Northern IL Public Health Consortium and others in the public health advocacy world that pushed the amendment not IDPH.


  23. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    You gave me cupcakes first a year ago. They called me the cupcake girl.

    Soccermom is having a T.S. Eliot kind of day…


  24. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    Od’ und leer das kleine Kuchen…


  25. - Living in Machiaville - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    …”In any event, this doesn’t mean the end of Pradaxa. The drug, available in the U.S. since 2010, remains approved for sale…” In other news, Dr. Richard Kimball is still being sought by authorities…


  26. - A modest proposal - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 5:51 pm:

    Unregulated cupcakes…


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