Local Officials Shut Down 11 Year Old's Cupcake Business as a Threat to Public Health

COMMENTARY | 11 year old Chloe Stirling got some great accolades from her local newspaper for the cupcake business she had started out of her parents’ kitchen. Unfortunately the local health department took another view and shut her down.

The sticking point was that not only did she lack the proper permits and licenses to run a food business, but according to local and state law she would have to either own her own bakery or have a kitchen separate from that of her parents to continue cooking cupcakes for money. Since this was clearly impossible, Stirling is no longer able to run a business. Thus she has learned at an early age that the biggest obstacle to entrepreneurism consists of government rules and regulations.

Stirling had started her cup cake business as a way to earn money to buy a car when she turned 16. She had also branched out into charity fund raising, selling confections for cancer research and for the cancer treatment of a school friend.

Local officials are apparently unmoved by the obvious spectacle of government bureaucrats crushing the aspirations of an 11 year old. Rules are the rules, after all, and they protect the health of the public from rogue bakers, even if they are children.

The story, like the one of the government war on children’s lemonade stands, serves as a commentary on the inflexibility of state rules and regulations. There was no evidence that young Ms. Stirling was poisoning the public or was working in unsanitary conditions. The government bureaucrats who shut her down were just following the law. But the law does not have any exceptions for small businesses run out of personal kitchens.

Clearly there needs to be some way that people can bake goods or run some kind of catering business out of their private kitchen and still comply with normal and necessary public health standards. The bureaucrats who crushed Chloe Stirling’s business seemed cruel and uncaring, but the real villains are the town council and the state legislature which passed the laws that came down upon her with all their might and majesty. In these tough economic times, plucky entrepreneurs like Stirling need to be encouraged, not treated as enemies of the state. Law makers everywhere should take notice and react accordingly.