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Illinois

Cottage Food Law

Illinois has two different laws in place that allow the sale of homemade food. This page covers the older law, which is for “cottage food operations”. The newer law is for “home kitchen operations,” which you should use if you want to sell baked goods outside of farmers markets. Aside from being able to sell outside of farmers markets, the newer law is more restrictive than this one.

This law only lets you sell cottage foods at a farmers market*. The startup cost for your cottage food operation could be as low as $100, but it could be higher if your local health department has decided to charge fees for registration and an inspection.

In 2017, a new bill (HB 3063) passed which improved this law by removing the sales limit, and by allowing many more food items to be sold. There is a list of perishable foods that are not allowed, and any food or drink item that is not on that list is allowed.

* Products with a locally-grown main ingredient can also be sold on the farm that grew the main ingredient, or delivered directly to the consumer.

Selling

At the point of sale, you must put up a prominent placard that says “This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens.” (this is in addition to placing that statement on product labels) In addition to farmers markets, products that have a locally-grown main ingredient (such as strawberry jam with locally grown strawberries) can be sold on the farm that grew the main ingredient, or delivered directly to the consumer.

Starting a cottage food business?

DOWNLOAD THIS FREE GUIDE

Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

(Some of them just might surprise you!)

Allowed Foods

Prohibited Foods

Unlike most laws, Illinois specifies which types of foods are NOT allowed. Therefore, any food or drink item that is not on the prohibited list is allowed. Here is the list of foods that you cannot make:

  • Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, or shellfish
  • Dairy, except as an ingredient in a non-potentially hazardous baked good or candy, such as caramel
  • Eggs, except as an ingredient in a non-potentially hazardous baked good or in dry noodles
  • Pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies, cheesecakes, custard pies, creme pies, and pastries with potentially hazardous fillings or toppings
  • Garlic in oil
  • Canned foods, except for fruit jams, fruit jellies, fruit preserves, fruit butters, and acidified vegetables
  • Sprouts
  • Cut leafy greens, except for leafy greens that are dehydrated or blanched and frozen
  • Cut fresh tomato or melon
  • Dehydrated tomato or melon
  • Frozen cut melon
  • Wild-harvested, non-cultivated mushrooms
  • Alcoholic beverages

Again, if your food or drink product is not on that list, then you are allowed to sell it at a farmers market.

To clarify, you can sell salsa, but assuming that it includes cut tomato, it must be sold frozen. You can sell ketchup, assuming that it is an acidified food (you added an acid, like vinegar, to it to lower its pH value). You can sell other types of sauces (like BBQ sauce), assuming they are considered acidified foods.

Only "non-potentially hazardous" foods are allowed, but certain non-PHFs may not be allowed. Most foods that don't need to be refrigerated (foods without meat, cheese, etc.) are considered non-potentially hazardous. Learn more

Limitations

Limitations
There is no sales limit

Business

Registration

You must register with the health department before selling cottage foods under this law, and usually there is no fee to do so. The department cannot charge more that $25 per year for registration.

Food Service Sanitation Management Certificate

You must take a class and receive a “Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification” from the health department, which takes about 8 hours to complete and costs at least $35.

By default, the only requirements for a cottage food operation are a no-fee registration and a certificate. However, an individual health department has the option to charge a fee (up to $25 per year) for registration and mandate a home inspection, which may also incur a fee. If you are only making baked goods, you can bypass the above requirements by trying to become a home kitchen operation.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens."


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, IL 73531


Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream, salt), semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors), brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract, alcohol, sugar), baking soda, salt (salt, calcium silicate)


Contains: milk, eggs, wheat, soy


Produced on 7/2/2020


Workplace

In addition to (or instead of) your home kitchen, you can use another residential or commercial kitchen on your property.

Resources

Law Dates
January 2012
SB 0840
June 2014
HB 5354
June 2014
HB 5657
January 2016
HB 2486
January 2018
HB 3063

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Starting a cottage food business?

DOWNLOAD THIS FREE GUIDE

Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

(Some of them just might surprise you!)

Comments

I am looking at importing Honey and Organic Oils for commercial sample. Can I stock these in my home? Do I need to register “facility” with state or FDA? Are there any restrictions on stocking these products in a residence for commercial sale?

If I want to sell products at farmers markets in Illinois do I need to go through all the steps of setting up and registering a company?

I am interested in starting a tea business. I am looking for a way to bypass an expensive warehouse rent. If I package, store, and seal the goods in, say, a rented organic certified kitchen, an I able to ship from any other facility? Possibly my residence?

I’ve been looking for clarification on this and any tips are appreciated!

Can I sell cupcakes out of my home in Bartlett, IL? I was trying to find information on the village’s website, but was unsuccessful.

I was thinking about selling different types of rubs and seasoning. I live in Illinois. Would this be considered a home business or cottage?

If my hot sauce is tested to be NPH, can I sell it out of cottage food operation? The local county offices near me HAVE NO CLUE =(

    You local EPA is supposed to be enforcing the laws, so if they don’t know, then there might not be a clear answer. I would say that there is potential for you to sell it at farmers markets under the cottage food law, but the health dept has to approve it.

I would like to start making pulled pork sandwiches hotdogs sloppy joes from home to sell at the new train station along with drinks can I do that

Hi, I’m in Illinois and would like to sell home roasted coffee beans at local farmer markets – do you know what category coffee beans falls under? Would I just need to package with the same disclaimer as say, a baked food? Thank you for your time.

I am thinking about packaging my granola and selling at farmers markets this season, do you have a suggestion for where I could find out more information/help to get started with this venture? I live in Chicago, IL

    Honestly, Illinois doesn’t have many online resources, so this page and the resources listed on this page may be your best bet. To learn more, I’d suggest you contact your health or ag dept.

I love to bake and I’m really good at baking novelty cakes and its started off as me baking for family functions and a few friends and they would pay me nothing near as much as the cake was worth. Now I have friends of friends asking me to bake them cakes for there children’s birthday parties…. What license would I need to start selling my baked goods considering I do it out of my home???