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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

What are the rules for a bake sale? Our Jr. High is planning a trip to DC and want to do some fundraising events to help offset the costs. Can we have parents donate items they make at home with the students. Or what if we were able to use a church kitchen that is approved with a state license?

    There are exceptions for charitable bake sales like this. You should contact the health dept for specifics about what is exempt, but you shouldn’t have to get a license or use a commercial kitchen to do this. http://forrager.com/faq/#nonprofit

    Here’s some of the law language: “A home kitchen operation does not include a person who produces or packages non-potentially hazardous baked goods for sale by a religious, charitable, or nonprofit organization for fundraising purposes; the production or packaging of non-potentially hazardous baked goods for these purposes is exempt from the requirements of this Act.”

Hello,
I’m in Chicago, cook county and want to make cookies at home and sell online but it looks like that is prohibited in both options, any info on this process would be greatly appreciated.

Some states allow home canned pickled food. Like pickles and other pickled vegetables in this law. I’m new to Illinois and was wondering if it is allowed in Illinois? Thanks

David. Thank you for your site and the time you take to answer questions. I, too, am an inspiring Farmers Market wannabe vendor. My question is about dried mushrooms.
Do I need a commercial kitchen to dry them?
What if I sell them under “tea”?
Also, if I mix dry soup ingredients(aka: dried onions, dried herbs, cornstarch, etc), & package them, can they be sold without use of a commercial kitchen?
Thanks for your help.

    I’m not sure about mushrooms… I’d recommend talking to the farmers market about what they will allow you to sell. You may not even have to worry about this law for mushrooms. Dried mixes are not allowed under this law, but again, check with the farmers market and see what they say.

Hi,
We are foreigners here and I want to start my home-kitchen-based food production under this law.
I have the following questions:
– Can I have together two licenses, one for home kitchen operation and the other for cottage food operation in order to add the sales limit of the first to the second and obtain a maximum annual limit of $37000?
– Where are the farmer’s markets physically located in north Chicago? When they are open? Do I need to rent a place there for selling food?
– How can I obtain the Food Service Sanitation Certificate?
– Can anybody, please, brief me with the step-by-step procedure to start such business?
I shall be grateful to anyone who provides with such information.
Best Regards,

    Yes, technically you could combine the two sales limits, but almost no region allows home kitchen operations, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to start one. I’m not familiar with the north Chicago area, so I recommend you contact your local health dept for the answers to your other questions.

    Sorry, I don’t know. It would be nice if the health dept published a list! If I recall correctly, the only counties I’ve heard allow it are Madison and Jersey counties.

Where does home-made fudge fall on the “cooked candy”spectrum (cooked on the stove top)? Is this a product that can be made in a home kitchen and sold at either farmers markets or holiday craft/vendor fairs? Thank you.

I am looking into making homemade extracts such as Vanilla, mint, almond and so on. I am finding no information about this product. There’s no cooking involved. just mixing ingredients and letting them mature or sit. I would like to be able to sell at farmers markets and craft shows, maybe eventually on a web site or local small business. Any information would be helpful. Thank You