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Illinois Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Illinois
Illinois Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Date of the enactment of the
food law: January 2012.
Revised in 2014, revised in 2015 and expected to be revised for
Food Operation law (P.A.097-0393)
allows certain foods made in home kitchens to be sold at Illinois
farmers' markets with limited regulation.
Then it was
revised again in 2022, expanding where food items could be sold.
The purpose of the law is
to promote and support the Illinois agriculture and cottage food
Which foods are subject to the Illinois Cottage Food law?
Foods prepared for sale by a Cottage Food Operation: only
non-potentially hazardous baked goods, fruit pies, jams, jellies,
fruit preserves, fruit butters, dry herbs, dry herb blends, and dry
tea blends intended for end-use consumption are permitted. Here is a
- Jams, Jellies, and Preserves: Fruits are naturally high in
food acid. Only high acid jams, jellies, and preserves made from
the following fruits are permitted: apple, apricot, grape,
peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, tangerine, blackberry,
raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry,
strawberry, red currants, or a combination of those fruits.
Additional notes and restrictions:
- Any other jams, jellies, butters, or preserves not listed
may be produced by a cottage food operation
provided the recipe
has been tested. The testing must be conducted by a commercial
laboratory at the expense of the cottage food operation. The lab
report must document that the product is not potentially
hazardous, containing a pH equilibrium of less than 4.6 or has
been specified and adopted as allowed in administrative rules by
- Low Sugar Jams and Jellies: The best practice
for low sugar jams and jellies or those using sugar substitute
is that they be processed only in a boiling water canner for a
minimum of ten (10) minutes and not by any other methods unless
water activity is determined by a commercial lab to be less than
- What about other flavors? Any other jams, jellies, or
preserves not listed may be produced by a cottage food operation
provided their recipe has been tested and documented by a
commercial laboratory as containing a pH level equilibrium of
less than 4.6.
- Baked Goods: Baked goods, such as,
but not limited to, breads, cookies, cakes, fruit pies, and
- Fruit Butters: Only high acid fruit butters are
permitted. Fruit butters made from: apple, apricot, grape,
peach, plum, quince, and prune. Any other fruit butter not
listed may be produced by a cottage food operation provided
their recipe has been tested and documented by a commercial
laboratory as containing pH of less than 4.6. and water activity
of less than 0.85.
- Fruit pies that are permitted: High-acid
fruit pies made of apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince,
orange, nectarine, tangerine, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry,
boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants, or a
combination of these fruits. Fruit pies not listed above may be
produced by a cottage food operation provided their recipe has
been tested by a Commercial Laboratory and documented by the
laboratory as containing a pH equilibrium of less than 4.6
If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage
Don't give up. You may still be able to make and sell it commercially,
through a startup approach.
First, you may be able to rent space in a local licensed commercial kitchen.
Second, if that doesn't work, you may be able to get a co-packer to make the food for you.
See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do
not meet the Cottage Food definition
The following are among those NOT allowed as a Cottage Food
product: It's possible this list could change, You can see the most current list of prohibited cottage foods on
Illinois Extension’s website:
- fried doughnuts, fried pies, crepes or pancakes
- Meat and dairy products,
- canned vegetables,
- pickled products,
- raw seed sprouts, jams
- Preserves and jellies made from watermelon
- Butters made from pumpkin, banana, and pear
- Baked goods: pumpkin, sweet potato, custard or any cream
pies, cheese cake, or any pastry with a potentially hazardous
filing or topping -
- Heat treated plant food,
- baked or boiled potatoes,
- cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes, cut melons, garlic and oil
- Cut or pureed fresh tomato or melon.
- Frozen cut melon.
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc.)
- Fish (tuna, salmon, etc.)
- Shellfish and crustaceans (shrimp, crab, clam, etc.)
- Shell Eggs
- Milk and milk products
- Heat-treated plant food (cooked rice, beans, or vegetables)
- Dehydrated tomato or melon.
- Wild-harvested, non-cultivated mushrooms.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Kombucha (fermented tea).
- "baked" goods? To cook (food) by dry heat
without direct exposure to a flame, especially in an oven (e.g.
bread, muffins, cakes, rolls, cookies, crackers).
- "Cottage food operation" means a person who
produces or packages non-potentially hazardous food in a kitchen
of that person's primary domestic residence for direct sale by
the owner or a family member, stored in the residence where the
food is made.
- "Farmers' market" means a common facility
or area where farmers gather to sell a variety of fresh fruits
and vegetables and other locally produced farm and food products
directly to consumers.
- "Potentially hazardous food" means a food
that is potentially hazardous according to the Federal Food and
Drug Administration 2009 Food Code (FDA 2009 Food Code) or any
subsequent amendments to the FDA 2009 Food Code. Potentially
hazardous food (PHF) in general means a food that requires time
and temperature control for safety (TCS) to limit pathogenic
microorganism growth or toxin formation. In accordance with the
FDA 2009 Food Code, potentially hazardous food does not include
a food item that because of its pH or Aw value, or interaction
of Aw and pH values, is designated as a non-PHF/non-TCS food in
Table A or B of the FDA 2009 Food Code's potentially hazardous
- "primary domestic residence" - It is
the place where you live, whether you own the home or are
renting. So, a house, an apartment, condominium or a rental home
all could be a primary domestic residence. It does not include
group or communal residential settings, such as group homes,
sororities or fraternities or second homes, vacation homes or
motor homes (if they are not your primary residence).
Licensing and training
Anyone preparing or packaging food for a home-based food operation must complete an American
National Standards Institute accredited Certified
Food Protection Managers course and exam. Once certified, the operator must register with their local health department, which requires filling
out an application, listing the foods intended for sale, and paying any applicable fees.
- The name and residence of the person preparing and
selling products must be registered with the local county public
health department where the cottage food operation resides.
Local Illinois Health Departments
- The person preparing and packaging must hold a current CFPM certification from an
ANSI accredited Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certification courses and passing the exam. As of 2018, students will not need to apply
for the additional Illinois FSSMC certificate.
See the list below, last updated March 2021, or see
American National Standards Institute (ANSI Food Handler Training Certificate Programs.
ANSI-CFP Accreditation Program (Accredited)
- Note that
if you are in Chicago,
Chicago has its own registration process. For
questions, please email email@example.com.
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly,
must conform to the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act
- Name of cottage food operation and unit of local government in which the cottage food operation is located.
- Common name of product and weight
- All ingredients listed in descending order by weight, including any color, artificial flavor, and preservative, l
- Allergen labeling as specified under federal labeling requirements.( must identify: - Milk, eggs, wheat,
peanuts, soybeans, fish, crustacean shellfish, and tree nuts
Allergens may be listed as part of ingredient list OR As
allergen statement, such as, "contains, ." as separate list after
- Date product was prepared or processed
- The identifying registration number provided by the local health department on the certificate of registration and the name of the
municipality or county in which the registration was filed.
- Both a statement on the label and at a point of sale placard that must read, in prominent lettering: “This product was produced in a
home kitchen not inspected by a health department that may also process common food allergens. If you have safety concerns, contact your local
Here is a free
Microsoft Word label template which you can download and edit.
These labels are already formatted to fit on Avery Template 22820
Print-to-the-Edge Oval, Labels 2" x 3-1/3", 8 per Sheet, Glossy White.
You can get the label stock online (see at right).
Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?
As an Illinois cottage food operator, you must sell products directly to the consumer.
Sales avenues include, but are not limited to:
- Farmers market
- picked up from the private home or farm of the cottage food operator, if the pickup is not prohibited by any law of the unit of local
government that applies equally to all cottage food operations in a municipality with a population of 1,000,000 or more, a cottage food operator
shall comply with any law of the municipality that applies equally to all home-based businesses;
- picked up from a third-party private property with consent of the third-party property holder.
- Fairs, festivals, public events, or online
- Delivery to the customer
sell your foods to a
- retailer for them to resell
- to a restaurant for use or sale in the restaurant.
- on consignment,
- to wholesalers,
- to brokers
- or other food distributors who will resell the cottage
Gross receipts must not exceed $36,000 per year.
Other foods may be permitted under certain circumstances, which may include recipe
testing at a commercial lab, acidifying low-acid
products, providing a written food safety plan to
the local health department, or maintaining product refrigeration throughout
transport and holding.
Several food categories have additional guidelines:
Canned Tomatoes or Canned Tomato Product
(1.6) In order to sell canned tomatoes or a canned product containing tomatoes, a cottage food operator shall either:
(A) follow exactly a
recipe that has been tested by the United States Department of Agriculture National Center for Home Food Preservation or by a state cooperative
extension located in this State or any other state in the United States; or
(B) submit the recipe, at the cottage food operator’s expense, to a
commercial laboratory according to the commercial laboratory’s directions to test that the product has been adequately acidified; use only the
varietal or proportionate varietals of tomato included in the tested recipe for all subsequent batches of such recipe; and provide documentation of
the annual test results of the recipe submitted under this subparagraph upon registration and to an inspector upon request during any inspection
authorized subsection (d).
Fermented or Acidified Food:
(2) In order to sell a fermented or acidified food, a cottage food operation shall either:
(A) submit a recipe that has been tested by the
United States Department of Agriculture National Center for Home Food Preservation or a cooperative extension system located in this State or any
other state in the United States; or
(B) submit a written food safety plan for each category of products for which the cottage food operator uses
the same procedures, such as pickles, kimchi, or hot sauce, and a pH test for a single product that is representative of that category; the written
food safety plan shall be submitted annually upon registration and each pH test shall be submitted every 3 years; the food safety plan shall adhere
to guidelines developed by the Department.
(3) A fermented or acidified food shall be packaged according to one of the following standards:
(A) A fermented or acidified food that is canned must be processed in a boiling water bath in a Mason-style jar or glass container with a
(B) A fermented or acidified food that is not canned shall be sold in any container that is new, clean, and seals properly and
must be stored, transported, and sold at or below 41 degrees.
See Fermented Foods to learn more about fermentation.
Baked Goods with Cheese:
(4) In order to sell a baked good with cheese, a local health department may require a cottage food operation to submit a recipe, at the cottage
food operator’s expense, to a commercial laboratory to verify that it is non-potentially hazardous before allowing the cottage food operation to
sell the baked good as cottage food.
Food operators are encouraged to reach out to their local health
department or Illinois Extension office for
guidance and clarification when in doubt.
"Allergen labeling", as specified in federal labeling requirements means:
- The operator must identify if any of the ingredients are made from one of the following food groups: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean
shellfish, tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. If there is an ingredient made with a wheat based
product, the operator has the following two options:
- Include the allergen in the ingredient list. For example, a white bread with the following ingredient listing: whole wheat flour,
enriched wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. In this example, the statement 'whole wheat flour and enriched wheat flour', meets the
requirements of the federal law as food allergens.
- Include an allergen statement ("Contains") after the ingredient list. For example, a white bread, with the following ingredients:
enriched wheat flour, whole wheat flour, water, sodium caseinate, salt and yeast. Contains wheat and milk.
The "Contains": statement must
reflect all the allergens found in the product. In this example, the sodium caseinate comes from milk and the enriched wheat flour and whole
wheat flour are from wheat.
- Special requirements for tree nuts labeling for allergens
If the cottage food product has tree nuts as an ingredient you must
identify which tree nut you are using.
How the state deals with complaints
What would the state recommend if a complaint is received and significant food safety violations are found at the cottage food operation?
In the event of a consumer complaint or foodborne illness outbreak, upon notice from a different local health department, or if the Department or
a local health department has reason to believe that an imminent health hazard exists or that a cottage food operation’s product has been found to
be misbranded, adulterated, or not in compliance with the conditions for cottage food operations, the Department or the local health department may:
Inspect the premises of a cottage food operation in question;
Set a reasonable fee for the inspection; and
Invoke penalties and the cessation of the sale of cottage food products until it deems that the
situation has been addressed to the satisfaction of the Department or local health department; if the situation is not amenable to being addressed,
the local health department may revoke the cottage food operation’s registration following a process outlined by the local health department.
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and
reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
ServSafe® training classes for Manager and employees, the 7th Edition Book that accompanies this course should be purchased here..
Testing of pH
It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day
used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used
instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the
paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.
Record-keeping is suggested
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale,
- Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
- Amount canned and sold
- Canning date
- Sale dates and locations
- Gross sales receipts
- Results of any pH test
Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing
- Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized
prior to use
- Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water
before and after use
- Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
- Keep household pets out of the work area
- Keep walls and floors clean
- Have adequate lighting
- Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects
- Wash hands frequently while working
- Consider annual testing of water if using a private well
- Allergen: Most state home baking
acts require an "ingredient statement" and/or an "allergen
listing" on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your
state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food
- crustacean shellfish,
- tree nuts,
- wheat and
- Cross-allergenicity: There are also
ingredients available, even flours, that can cause a
cross-allergenicity. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma &
Immunology explains cross-allergenicity as an allergic reaction
when proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found
in another substance. For example, consumption of lupine flour
may trigger an allergic reaction to peanuts, and cricket flour
may trigger an allergic reaction to shellfish. Again, providing
such information might be a beneficial marketing tool and help
keep potential consumers safe.
- The 2 Hour/4 Hour Rule - Anyone
wishing to make and sell refrigerated bakery items should
remember to follow the "2 Hour/4 Hour Rule." This is a system
that can be implemented when potentially hazardous foods are out
of temperature control (temperatures greater than 45 degrees
Fahrenheit) during preparation, serving or display for sale. The
rule guidelines are as follows:
- If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for 2 hours or less, then it may
continue to be used or be placed back in the refrigerator.
- If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for more than 2 hours but less than 4
hours, it needs to be used quickly or discarded.
- If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for more than 4 hours, it must be
More information about specific fruit allowances:
You may combine specifically allowed fruit products if all the
fruits are allowed in that form.
An asterisk (*) means the product is neither specifically allowed
nor prohibited. That means if you want to make and sell such a
product , you must, at your own expense, submit the recipe to a
commercial laboratory to be tested and documented as non-potentially
hazardous (that is, it has a pH less than 4.6).
- Can nonprofit organizations produce and sell cottage foods?
No. Nonprofits do not have a primary domestic residence, and
therefore do not qualify as cottage food businesses.
- Can I make and sell sweet breads, muffins or other baked
goods made with homegrown/fresh fruits and vegetables like
zucchini, carrots, apples, and strawberries?
Yes, as long as
the fruits or vegetables are incorporated into the batter and
properly baked, packaged and labeled.
- Can homegrown produce be canned and used for making
baked goods, like sweet breads, at a later date?
No, but you
can use commercially canned products for baked goods, like
canned apple pie filling. Home-canned products are not approved
for production under the cottage food law, with the exception of
some types of jams, jellies and fruit butters.
- Can I freeze fresh homegrown produce and use it for
making baked goods, like sweet breads, at a later date?
as long as the frozen fruits or vegetables are minimally
processed (washed and cut only) and then incorporated into the
batter and properly baked, packaged and labeled.
- Can I produce and sell fresh raw prepared and/or cooked
vegetable products, like salsas, tomato sauces, spaghetti
sauces, or foccacia bread with roasted vegetables?
products made with fresh raw prepared and/or cooked vegetable
products do not qualify. Cooked vegetables, whether from fresh,
frozen or canned are considered a potentially hazardous
food/temperature controlled for safety (PHF/TCS) food. Under the
Illinois Food Code, cooked vegetables must be held either hot
(above 135°F) or cold (below 41°F). They can't be stored at room
temperature, which makes them ineligible for production as a
cottage food operation. Cut fresh tomatoes that may be in cold
prepared foods, e.g., salsa, is a PHF/TCS. Primary domestic
residence kitchens cannot be used for processing produce (e.g.,
wash, cut or slice) for ready-to-eat service.
- Can I make freezer jams?
No. Freezer jams do not fall
within the exemptions allowed as they have to be maintained
- Can I press and sell cider as a cottage food operation?
No. Cider is not an acceptable item. Actually, no beverages are
allowed to be produced. Are honey and maple syrup covered under
the cottage food law? No. Honey and maple syrup producers should
contact the Illinois Department of Public Health at (217)
- Will I need to meet local zoning or other laws?
Possibly. The cottage food exemption only exempts you from the
health department requirements of permits and routine
inspections. Contact your local unit of government
(village/city/county) to determine if there are local
regulations that will affect your business.
- Do I need to collect and report retailer's occupation tax
(sales tax) for my cottage food business?
food businesses, although exempt from food permitting
requirements, may meet other provisions of law regarding
businesses, including tax law. You may need to maintain sales
records and may need to provide them to the Internal Revenue
Service, Illinois Department of Revenue, farmers' market sponsor
or for village/city/county sales tax collection.
- Are there any liability exemptions?
No. It is your
responsibility to assure that your foods are safe, unadulterated
and properly labeled. Contact your attorney and/or insurance
representative for advice.
- Should I initiate a recall or market withdrawal of my foods
if found to be misbranded (e.g., did not declare milk on the
label) or adulterated (e.g., foreign object in food)?
should consider a press release or other public notice. See the
following FDA website:
- Can I offer samples? Yes, with conditions. There is now
a Farmers Market Food Product Sampling Handler Certificate, see
this page. The law is found here
Illinois Food Service Sanitation Code 750.4300
Effective July 15, 2015, a Farmers Market Food Product Sampling
Handler Certificate is required to sample your food product at a
Farmers Market, without having to get a separate license from
the local health department (applies to samples only). The
Farmers Market Food Product Sampling Handler Certificate is
required for all persons who engage in performing tasks such as
unpacking, cutting, slicing, preparing or distributing food
product samples. Certificates are not transferrable between
individuals and are valid for 3 years from issue date.
More FAQs can be found here and
Another summer and FAQs is presented here.
Questions? Contact Information:
For more information, contact
U of I Extension: WHAT CAN YOU SELL UNDER THE ILLINOIS COTTAGE FOOD LAW?
If you decide you would like to wholesale your products, which is
not allowed under the cottage food law, you are ready to move to the
next step and become a wholesale food processor. Contact the
Illinois Department of Public Health at (217) 278-5900.
If you would like to operate a retail business, you must
operate from a permitted, inspected kitchen and obtain a health
permit and applicable city food licenses. Contact the
Champaign-Urbana Public Health District/Champaign County Public
Health Department at (217) 373-7900 or (217) 363-3269 or see the
plan review and
permitting section on the food safety page.