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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 have an online petition going in an effort to get our law changed in Illinois. If you email me at cakedujour@comcast.net, I will send you the link so you can add your name to the petition. Also, I encourage you to share the link to your FB or other social media pages. If we all work together we have a much better chance of expanding our law.

Hi, if you use a co-packer for tea, that isn’t cottage is it? Also, does IL require that their Dept of Ag approve food labels?

    Yes, I believe this would be okay, as long as you are producing the tea at home, packaging it somewhere else, and then labeling it properly. The law says that a cottage food operation “produces OR packages” their items, so I don’t think both are required. Still, you should contact your local health dept to verify.

    I was able to include jams and butters, but had to have them tested at a laboratory for Ph levels. Although this is about a $100 or more cost to do, if you wish to have your preserves checked, you can then submit the results to the local health department for review and approval.

How does this apply to online ordering and sales promotion? I want to start a business from home that also includes savory items and offers both delivery and online ordering. What types of liscences would I need? What state offices would I need to make sure I’m in compliance with? I have no problem incorporating if necessary but want to do it from home and avoiding the FDA labeling requirements (at first). Suggestions?

    I was wondering this same thing but it does state above, under the list of places it may be sold, that internet is not an option. ..going to start looking in other states!

    You may advertise online, but you can’t sell there. Regardless, there is no legal way for you to make your items from home unless you are only selling at farmers markets (although there is the expensive possibility of building a commercial kitchen in your home — not sure if that will work in Illinois though). You should call your health dept to determine what your best options are.