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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 thinking of trying to sell dry packaged gluten free cookie mixes to retail stores. The mixes would be bagged in a commercial kitchen. Each bag would contain the dry ingredients, then on the packaging I would have printed what else needs to be added ( eggs, butter etc ), as well as further instructions. Is this legal in the state of Illinois. I already have a business license & food handlers license since I bake in a commercial kitchen and sell at farmers markets.
Thank You!

Wow, I am shocked. I have the potential to start up a business with 50 sandwiches being sold every day under a guaranteed contract and I can’t make the sandwiches at home. I wouldn’t even be cooking anything. That just seems so un-American. Also, I know some amish folks who sell around a million dollars of jellies and jams to schnucks every year. Which are all made on their home property(personal resisdence) That’s a little confusing to me. Well anyway, I’m calling the health department tomorrow, because I just have to hear this nonsense for myself.

    I understand why you’re surprised, but I’d say that the current laws are very American, as the laws were first developed in the United States. It’s not that you can’t make sandwiches in a home — it’s that food needs to be prepared in a facility that’s licensed and inspected by the health dept. I’m not sure about the Amish folks, but it is possible (and expensive) to build a commercial kitchen in your home and get it regularly inspected, which might be what they have done.

Hi my son wants to sell cheesecakes and I was wondering would he be able to sell them under these particular regulations or if you can give me advice about what Avenue he would take to do so. This will be a home based business these would be mostly special orders packed and distributed immediately from a cooling station, also will he need some type of license for baking or cooking.

Hi. I’m looking into starting a business with cupcakes, cookies, and chocolates covered foods. Where would the chocolate covered food fall under?

A friend of mine purchased a truck. Which the turned into a food truck. But there is no cooking done on the truck. All food is prepared on the grill. Ribs, chicken, pulled pork, hot dogs etc. All the food is washed and prepared in the house. But not cooked until we get to the site. The only thing that is done on the truck is keeping the food warm and packaging. Winnebago Health Dept. will not allow it because there is no commercial kitcken. But went to another county in IL and no problem with them. But the location is an hour 1/2 hr there and back.

    Quite frankly, I’m shocked that an IL county’s health dept has no problem with meat being prepared and cooked in a home kitchen and then sold. It is their job to prevent that from happening.

I make dip mixes from commercial spices (McCormick, etc.). I blend and package in my home kitchen. Is this allowed? And, can they be sold at Craft/Vendor Fairs?

I’ve been loking over regulations, and requirements, but I still have a question whether if im trying to start a “meat sauce” a BBQ like sauce that would taste good “on all meats” ( not including seafood and seafood like dishes” would I still have to find a commercial kitchen or can I make the sauce in a home kitchen?

Hello,

I am looking into a pasta sauce venture. It looks as if the cottage law does not apply to this. Do you know where I could find information about pasta sauces, most likely containing tomatoes?

Thanks!

Hi there. I have a friend who is looking to start a lollipop business. I am assuming that doesn’t fall under the category of baked candy. Is there any other way she can do this without a commercial kitchen. Thanks.

Hello,
I have been baking custom cakes from my home kitchen for my friends. I would like to take public orders of custom cakes and bake them from my kitchen to start with. Can I proceed or do I need some sort of licensing to do this. It will just be 2 orders per week max upto $500 a month.