Public Health

Health Department Shuts Down 11-Year-Old's Cupcake Business

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allieosmar / Foter / CC BY-NC

The Health Department of Madison County, Illinois on Sunday shut down a baking operation run by an 11-year-old girl.

Chloe Stirling may be young, but she's already developed serious culinary and small business skills. She began an enterprise, called "Hey, Cupcake!," out of her family's kitchen two years ago. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the sixth grader earns around $200 a month selling her baked goods. Stirling hopes to use her income to one day open her own bakery. Her mother, Heather, also offered to match the money Stirling makes to buy a car when she turns 16. Additionally, "she has donated many to charitable events, including a fundraiser for a student with cancer and, most recently, taking some to residents at a senior care center," writes the Belleville News-Democrat.

The desserts didn't sit well with the local government, though. The health department called Stirling's parents and demanded that the girl cease operations, because she was violating the Illinois State Food Service Code. Stirling lacked the necessary permit and the kitchen wasn't properly licensed.

"The guy told me I either had to buy her a bakery or put in a second kitchen (in the house)," Stirling's mother said.

How did the sleuths at the health department discover this renegade baker? She was on the front page of the local news. The News-Democrat wanted to highlight Stirling's entrepreneurship, so they wrote a feature about her.

Health Promotion Manager Amy Yeager told the Post-Dispatch, "The rules are the rules. It's for the protection of the public health. The guidelines apply to everyone." When asked whether it was worth the potential poor public relations, she said, "People will react how they choose to react. But it is our job."

The sixth grade scofflaw doesn't blame the department for finally catching up with her code-violating behavior. She told KSDK, "Well, I think it's just the rules are rules and they kind of need to be followed. I really don't blame the health department because it's not really their fault."

This isn't the first time law enforcement has tackled little criminals. Reason has covered numerous regulation-dodging lemonade runners, one of which had cancer, and even a zucchini black marketeer