By Benjamin Yount
Illinois News Network
Don’t be surprised if Illinois’ next public health law comes from Champaign County. The local state senator says new laws seem to be the only way to contain the “silliness” from local heath department officials.
State Senator Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, represents 10 counties, but he said he gets calls from angry mayors and restaurant owners from just one.
Rose said that health inspectors in Champaign County are not just overzealous, he said they border on stupidity.
“I can go back a few years, they told the American Legion that they can no longer sell pre-cooked hot dogs for a dollar as a fundraiser. They’re pre-cooked hot dogs. Are you kidding me?” Rose said. “They shut down the Lyons Club fish fry because they were frying the fish outdoors.”
Rose said lawmakers have had to step in and put the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District back in its place.
“The Illinois General Assembly, over the years, has had several bills that deal with food safety and public health that have come out of the Champaign County public health department,” he said.
District managers told the Champaign News-Gazette last week that they are simply “being fair” in their inspections.
The latest brouhaha seems to be over leftovers at University of Illinois fraternities.
“Late plates are what every college kid has existed on since time immemorial,” Rose said. “The fraternity cook left the students leftover mac and cheese in the fridge. But after a flurry of ridiculous phone calls that I can’t believe my office was even involved in, the inspectors said, ‘Okay, but you’re going to have to time stamp and date each plate.’ Here’s an idea, why don’t you just put the leftover mac and cheese in the refrigerator and let the kids come home from class and microwave it.”