SPRINGFIELD– Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that allows potluck dinners to be held without state or local government health inspections as long as individuals or non-profit groups are sponsoring the event and not charging for the food.
“Potluck meals are a long-standing tradition that do not warrant government intrusion,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Individuals or religious, charitable or non-profit groups should be able to hold gatherings to share food without fear of government regulation.”
Senate Bill 2944, sponsored by Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac) and Rep. Keith Sommer (R-Morton), specifies the Illinois Department of Public Health or a local health department may not regulate the serving of food at a potluck event sponsored by a group of individuals or a non-profit organization. The law does include provisions that no fee may be charged for food or beverage served at the potluck, those supplying the food are not being compensated, a business establishment dealing in the sale of food is not a sponsor and the event is not being held on public property.
If those provisions are not met, a “potluck” would be subject to a health inspection by either the state or local health department.
The legislation was prompted by confusion about the definition of a potluck event as used in the Illinois Food Service Sanitation Code. Local health departments had utilized differing interpretations of what types of potluck events required inspections and, in some instances, led to potlucks being forced to shut down by health inspectors.
SB 2944 is effective on January 1, 2005.