Friday, August 12, 2011

More on Artisan Ice Cream vs. the State of Illinois

Kris Swanberg, Nice Cream
Photo of Kris Swanberg from the Chicago Reader.
Yesterday I wrote about how the Illinois Department of Health is shutting down local, artisan ice cream makers for using fresh fruit and cream in their products instead of syrup and prepackaged soft serve mix. Kris Swanberg, the founder and creator of Nice Cream, emailed me last night with some additional information about the situation: "After reading the comments and your post I wanted to emphasize a very important point: We DO repasteurize our ice cream - we just do it on the stovetop in a pot, not in a fancy machine. Even though our process is safe and a common practice for ice cream making, they won't approve it."

I want to again note that the "fancy machine" the government wants Nice Cream and other small makers to use carries a hefty $40,000 price tag, something that Swanberg's three-person company cannot afford. They use industry-standard production methods for small-scale makers, but the regulations that they're now facing - which were never made clear to them or others in Chicago until this - are intended for large-scale manufacturers with the money to spend on expensive equipment that is overkill when you're making every pint by hand.

Swanberg is meeting with governmental agencies, legal experts, and others to see what can be done to make the situation in Illinois more hospitable to local, independent ice cream makers. In the meantime, you can contribute to Nice Cream's Kickstarter campaign, attend the fundraiser on August 28 if you're in the Chicago area, or contact the governor's office in Illinois about the situation.

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