Illinois

Law status: ENACTED


Sales type
Direct only
Sales venues
1 out of 8 allowed
Allowed foods
Few

Sales limit
$25,000 per year
Startup cost
$100

Illinois has some of the most restrictive cottage food laws of any state.  Unlike most states, Illinois only lets you sell cottage foods at a farmers market, and they limit annual sales to $25,000.  The startup cost for a cottage food operation could be as low as $100, but it could be higher if their local health department decided to charge fees for registration and an inspection.  The bill is also very specific about what types of food are allowed, but they include the most common ones.

Illinois now has a new bill (HB 5354) specifically designed to loosen the restrictions on home bakers. It has been passed by the House, and it may get passed by the Senate soon.

Selling

Sales Venues
  • Home
  • Farmers markets
  • Food stands
  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants
  • Events
  • Mail orders
  • Internet

At the point of sale, an operator must put up a prominent placard that has this statement: “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)

Sales are limited to $25,000 per year

Business

Base Startup Cost$100

    Requirements

  • License
  • Home inspection
  • Training
  • Business License

A cottage food operator must register with the health department before selling cottage foods, and usually there is no fee to do so. They also must take a class and receive a “Food Service Sanitation Management Certificate” from the health department, which is about 15 hours long and costs at least $100.

By default, the only requirements of a cottage food operation are a no-fee registration and a certificate. However, an individual health department has the option to charge a fee for registration and mandate a home inspection, which may also incur a fee.

Allowed Foods

  • Biscuits
  • Breads
  • Brownies
  • Cakes
  • Cobblers
  • Cookies
  • Dry tea
  • Fruit butters
  • Herbs
  • Jams & jellies
  • Muffins
  • Pastries
  • Pies
  • Preserves
  • Rolls
  • Sweet breads

The laws explicitly state which kinds of pies, jam, jelly, preserves, and fruit butters are allowed — please check the bill in the “Resources” section below to see the full list.

Labeling

Label Requirements
  • Product name
  • Business name
  • Business address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Ingredients
  • Net weight
  • Date produced
  • Allergens
  • Nutrition info
  • Statement
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 4/16/2014

This page was last updated on September 14th, 2012

Things are happening in Illinois! Hb 5354 has been passed by the House and is going to the Senate. The bill appears to be aimed mainly at bakers but it is a big chink in the armor of the current restrictive cottage food law in our state.

I urge all cottage food producers to bring a sample of your delicious home made product to the office of your local state Senator. Talk about how the current law affects you and how an improved law would improve your situation and business. The petition has over 2,800 signatures at this point so we do have a lot of support.

Now is the time to sweeten the deal and make your cause memorable. When it is time to vote your Senator will remember you and maybe your visit will be the encouragement needed to pass the bill – maybe even expand it to include more home produced products. Please everyone, we can do this by working together!

    That’s awesome Kathleen! You are doing great work in Illinois. I have now added a page on here for that: http://cottagefoods.org/laws/usa/illinois/hb-5354/

    I will add a word of caution. This looks similar in some ways to Oklahoma — a state which also seems unnecessarily opposed to a cottage food law. In that case, the law was worded in a way to give the health department complete control over the interpretation of some elements of the law, especially venues. The OK law says more about allowing out-of-home sales venues than this IL bill does, but their health dept still interpreted it to disallow sales from anywhere outside the home. I wouldn’t want you to put all this work into it and end up with a law that’s more restrictive than the current one. If you are expecting sales to be allowed anywhere, it probably won’t happen unless that’s specifically clear in the bill.

    I also see they slipped in some text about the law only being active in counties that allow it. This is different than any other law I’ve seen. Some laws don’t have any language about this at all, and then counties will disallow the law and citizens can’t do anything about it. Some states have prevented this from happening by including language that disallows counties from overruling the law. But in this case, it looks like the IL lawmakers are making it extra clear that health depts can stop this law if they want to. I’ve never seen that happen… it’s almost like they’re trying to prevent the law from taking hold. I know you probably don’t have any control over this, and you need to pick your battles… it’s just unfortunate that they themselves are chipping away at this bill.

    Does this bill replace the current law for farmers markets?

jill

ive sold at farmers markets in north carolina and tennessess. in reference to labeling- if the items were in a case that only i could handle, then i only had to label the tray of the items on display. is this the same in illinois or do you have to bag and label each cookie, cupcake or group of items?

    Both TN and NC are much more lenient with their cottage food laws. I haven’t heard about specific labeling requirements in IL, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were more strict, and you had to label everything at home. You can call the health dept for further clarification.

carolyn

Can only unfrosted baked goods be sold at farmers markets in IL? for example, muffins but not cupcakes….unfrosted cakes?

    Frosted cakes are usually fine as long as the frosting doesn’t require refrigeration. For instance, a standard powdered sugar and milk frosting would be okay. Buttercreams are sometimes borderline, so you should check with your health dept about those.

These posts have been very helpful as I attempt to develop my cottage food industry. Thanks!

I do have two questions which I’ve not completely understood from other comments here. First, where/how can I promote my business outside of farmers markets? Currently I’m advertising on my website that I’m selling at these venues, but I’m wondering if I can hand out flyers, posters, etc to some neighboring establishments my presence at our local market. Second, a friend of mine who owns a local cafe has asked if she could hire me as an independent contractor to make bread for their restaurant, using my recipes, but cooking out of their inspected kitchen. I already have my FS license, as does she, but are there additional permits/requirements I need to reach before I can do this? And if so, can I advertise my brand at her store? My local health department is currently between inspectors, and the current authority on cottage food industries was not able to answer this question.

Sorry for the long post! Thanks again.

    You can advertise however you’d like, including all of the above.

    I don’t know the answer to the 2nd question, but I do believe that you’d need to be an employee of the restaurant. If there is such a thing as an independent contractor chef, then I would think you’d need to have your own food license and insurance. My guess is that being an employee is the safest and easiest option.

I was turned into the health department in Vermilion county for doing cakes and cookies out of my separate shop from my house because my sister was posting them on rummage sale sites. There were 154 of us thAT RECEIVED A CALL THEY SAID i CAN ONLY DO THIS FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND THAT IS WHAT i HAVE BEEN DOING BUT WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT i AM LEGAL. wELL THE hEALTH DEPARTMENT TOLD ME MY SHOP NEEDS TO BE INSPECTED JUST LIKE A restaurant. Which would mean an inspection along with putting in a three compartment sink. Which I don’t understand because most of what I do is baked in disposables. Sorry for all the capitals the shift button stuck. I do have an EIN number for my business but want more information on this.

    The health dept is exactly right… in Illinois, you can do hardly anything without a commercial kitchen and license. Even when making cakes and cookies for family and friends, it is illegal to sell them.

Charles J. Aldous

The way I read the law, there does not seem to be any room for interpretation, and the Cottage Food registration form in my county (DuPage) seems to reflect that. I had originally assumed that I could sell home roasted coffee as a cottage food, now it seems that isn’t the case. This law seems overly constrained.

Kathleen Cherie

My petition, http://campaigns.peers.org/petitions/give-il-home-cooks-a-real-chance-amend-the-cottage-food-laws-now is nearing 2,700 signatures and I will soon be taking it to Springfield. I’m asking anyone interested to take your product to the local office of your state representative and senator and discuss the need for an improved cottage food law in Illinois. If we can inundate the reps all over the state with our awesome products, perhaps we can get this law changed to make better sense. Let’s show them what we can do and try to “sweeten the deal!”

No candy? That seems odd. And after reading the law I didn’t see where it really specifies what a farmers market is other than “A farmers market is defined as 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.” So theoretically if there is more than one “farmer” at my house I can sell from home?

Oleg

Great article! Thanks a lot! Just one question.

Am I allowed to sell home baked bread on internet (within IL and, mainly, other states)?
Thank you!

Melanie

Am I to assume since nut butters are not on the list they cannot be sold?

Jill

I have a friend who sells cookies out of her home. She takes orders for birthday, parties, etc. I was considering doing something similar but Am I reading it right to see that this is actually illegal? Only ol as ce can sell is a farmer’s market? Is this the same for cakes? Wedding, birthday, etc.

Emily

I recently opened an Etsy baking supply shop selling cookie cutters, cupcake toppers, etc. A lot of people with that type of shop seem to be selling sprinkles. They must be buying them in bulk and then repackaging them into little jars. I’m wondering if that would be illegal for me to do in Illinois since I would be doing it out of my house?

    That wouldn’t fall under the cottage food law, and I’m not sure what kind of permit you’d need to repackage bulk items. It’s possible that you wouldn’t be able to do this from home, but you should call the health dept to find out. It’s also worth noting that many of the homemade food businesses on Etsy are (at least partly) illegal.

Grace

I am working on putting together a list of food items that I would be able to sell at a farmers market and I’m rather new to the game. We’re working on getting all the needed paperwork and everything, and I have few questions.
Are doughnuts, scones, and coffeecakes allowed, or do they fall under the bread/biscuit category? Also, are Macarons considered a cookie? Are buns considered a bread item? And does cakes and cookies simply mean any cake or cookie is allowed, as long as it doesn’t have a hazardous filling/frosting?
Also- where does the label need to be on the packaged food item? Does it need to be on the top of the package, or is it alright on the side or bottom?

Name *

Where do I apply to get a permit to sell cupcakes at Farmers Markets?

Do you know why granola is excluded from the approved foods list in IL? Thank you.

Self

What are the rules in Illinois around making Dog Treats (biscuits)?

Niki

Does anyone know how it works with other states, i.e if. you are in IL but sell in IN, and visa versa?

Kathleen Cherie

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.

Emily

David – you have been extremely helpful!! Thanks for all of the information you’ve provided!!

Andi

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.

Bill

How abouy homemade egg noodles.Can I sell them? Where at? Could I sell them online after making them in my kitchen?

David

Is a Marmalade considered a jam?

    No, and because they are not listed, they are not allowed.

    Kapra

    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.

jenn

Would applesauce be considered a preserve?

Mary

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?

    jenn

    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.

Will

Does anyone know if Granola is considered an allowed food item?

Thanks!

    In many states it is, but it is not allowed in Illinois. For Illinois, if it doesn’t fall under one of the above categories, then it’s not allowed.

candice W

can pralines be classified as a cookie?

    That would be classified as a candy and would not be allowed. When they say they allow cookies, I think they are referring to baked goods only.

Phil

I can find no information regarding the restrictions for roasting whole bean coffee in home and selling it. Does whole bean coffee fall under the Cottage Law umbrella in Illinois?

Ryan

What about selling fudge?

    In every state that specifies it, the food must be intended for human consumption. I haven’t heard about Illinois specifically, but since they are a restrictive state anyway, I would be very surprised if they allowed pet food. You can try contacting the health department and asking, but I’m almost certain they’ll say no.

Jim Lee

Hello,

I was wondering if I would be allowed to sell drip coffee along with my baked goods at the farmers market? I just started selling baked goods and was wondering if I would be able to add coffee to make available to my customers.

Thanks!

Liza

I bake and decorate custom cakes and show them off on Instagram and Facebook. A lot of my friends have requested that I make them cakes for money. I have no intention on opening a commercial business and would only make the cakes in my spare time for extra income. What are the consequences if you are reported to have been selling cakes out of your home?

    I don’t know the specific consequences for your area, but generally, depending on the department, they’ll probably just give you a warning and ask you to stop. If they catch you again they could fine you. But that’s probably not going to happen… it’s more a matter of whether you feel it is right to do it. There is also the possibility that someone sues you for whatever after they consume your cake, and then you have no legal ground to stand on. Again, that’s unlikely if you’re only selling to friends.

    I’ve looked into this a lot and you can actually receive fines or jail time if you operate without the correct paperwork.

Pam

I have sold homemade pickles at a farmers market but was wanting to offer them on eBay. But I use store bought pickles and flavor them. Would these be allowed since I’m not actually making the pickles. Thanks. Pam

    Pam

    It might also make a difference that I do not actually do the pickling. I use purchased dill pickles and flavor them. Thanks.

    It would still not be allowed, because you are preparing them in your kitchen. You are not a reseller because you are modifying the food, even though you’re not pickling them yourself.

    Regardless, I suppose it’s worth noting that pickles are not allowed under Illinois’ cottage food law in general, so it would actually be illegal to sell homemade pickles at a farmers market too. But maybe you were already aware of this.

Rob

Is there a way one can sell pulled pork sandwiches or ribs at the farmer markets? If not where is the best place to begin selling those type of food items?

    You would not be able to under this cottage food law. You could do that if you went the route of becoming a commercial food processor. I’m not sure where you would go to get started with that process… maybe call your Health Department and they can guide you.

Jenni

If a person was to make their food items in a commercial kitchen, rather than a home kitchen, would they then be allowed to sell their items through the online market or through other businesses? For example: Say I make gourmet cookies in my home kitchen and sell them at a Farmers Market, but a local business has come to me and wants to sell my cookies in their coffee shop, would I still fall under the Cottage food law in Illinois?

    Jenni, foods made in a commercial kitchen may be sold through other businesses or online. If you made cookies in your home kitchen, you would not be able to let a local business resell them. You must personally sell them at a farmers market, and that is the only place they may be sold, under the current cottage food law.

Theresa

Is a flour & spice mixture (such as a coating for frying chicken) allowed? Also, what is the description of ‘farmer’s market’ where operators are allowed to sell?

    No, seasonings are not allowed under this law.

    Definition: “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.

Amanda

What about baking for people in my church only and if it’s only for a donation?

    There is an exemption for that kind of activity and these cottage food laws don’t apply to you. You should be fine — you don’t need a license, but you may want to check with your county’s health department to see if they have any requirements, like special signage or something.

    Sarms

    David, can you point to the exception for the church bake sale? I’m reviewing the Illinois cottage food law and I can’t find an exception for anything. Thank you.

    Sarms, you won’t find the exemption in the cottage food laws… most states (if not all) have had exemptions for non-profits long before the cottage food laws ever came about. I tried looking around for the language that mentions this exemption, but I couldn’t find it. Sometimes laws are really hard to find online, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I think if you call your health department, they’ll be able to help you.

Kimberly

I was wondering about homemade extracts ( eg. Vanilla) and herbal tinctures. They are both made with 80% alcohol or higher and would most likely be safe from bacteria. What are the regulations on these types of items?

    Some extracts are allowed in some states, but not Illinois. Usually there are special laws and licenses that pertain to alcoholic or medicinal substances.

sb29

If my dad owns a coffee house / restaurant and I want to sell breads, cookies, and candies out of his shop and cook them in his kitchen do I need any license besides my food handlers license? And would I still follow the cottage food laws?

    You would not be able to follow the cottage food laws in this case, but you would need to get licensed beyond a food handlers license. Assuming your dad has a commercial kitchen that you could use for free, you’ve already got a leg up on most of the people out there trying to start a food business. There could still be a significant process and cost to starting your business, though… contact your health department and they can guide you in the right direction.

I noticed that canning of pickle products are not listed. This seems extremely strange considering the high acidity. This is quite dissappointing considering my plan to start up a business based on my mother’s pickling recipes…..sigh.

    Pickles are allowed in some states, but not many. It is true that pickles can be made perfectly safely, but in this case, the issue might be due to possible risks. You might be able to make it correctly, but others might not without the proper training and kitchen equipment. I’m not sure if botulism is a risk here, but that has certainly kept many preserved foods off of approved foods lists in the cottage food industry.

My family and I are relatively new to Illinois (via USAF). As a supplementary source of income, my wife has sold a variety of foods from our home. As I was looking through the list of foods authorized for sale, I noticed ice cream is not on the list. Why is ice cream not approved? Based on the rationale, would it be reconsidered?

    Ice cream is not approved in any state because it must be temperature-controlled. Cottage foods, as a general rule, must be shelf-stable at room temperature. Homemade ice cream, although delicious, will not likely make the list for many years, if ever. Sorry!

I recently spoke to my state representative about the Illinois cottage food law. He was elected after the law was enacted and knew nothing about it. He could not understand why we can sell cakes at a Farmers Market, but not at home, and promised to look into it. I followed up with a letter that I am happy to share with other bakers. If you would like a copy of my letter, please email me at cakedujour@comcast.net and put Cottage Law in the subject line. I will email you the letter I wrote and you may use it in full, edit it, or just use it as inspiration for a letter of your own. If we can get enough bakers to contact our representatives, maybe we can get our law expanded. I’ve already shared the letter with several bakers so we are on our way.

kari

Is there a limit as to the number of participants involved in a Farmers Market under the cottage law? For instance a market has 25 participants in a farmers market/flea market out of 80 vendors present.

    Not that I know of. Generally, farmers markets give preference to actual farmers and produce, and they might have a separate, smaller section for other sellers (like cottage food operations), but I don’t think there’s any official limit or anything.

Irene Faivre

Do you know why rhubarb jams are excluded from the approved foods list? I thought rhubarb was a high acid food, since home canning books only specify using a hot water bath, not a pressure cooker. I know that the leaves have a very high oxalic acid content and would make a person pretty sick, but only the stalks are used in cooking.

    I’m not sure why. Vegetables are generally considered to be a higher-risk food to can, especially in regard to the potential of botulism. Because of this, the law’s authors might have just played it safe and only allowed fruits.

    However, everything you say is true. Rhubarb is very acidic and only needs the hot water bath method to be safe. I did a little research and couldn’t find anything that would indicate that rhubarb is susceptible to the kinds of risks that most other vegetables have associated with them. You could ask Illinois’ health department, but unfortunately, they probably can’t allow it until that wording comes out of the law. You might consider proposing a simple amendment in the next legislative session.

    Irene Faivre

    Thank you for your answer. I’ll check with the health dept and see if I can get the ball rolling. Illinois is the land of Rhubarb, so it seems a shame to eliminate it in cottage foods sold at farmers markets

anonynous

My neighbor bakes cakes and cupcakes and sells them out of her home through Facebook. Is this a legal business? If not, what is the process to report her business? And would any action be taken?

    The cottage food laws in Illinois would not allow this, and if she is using her home kitchen to make her home goods, then yes, it would technically be illegal. In many other states it would not be illegal, but Illinois hasn’t expanded their laws yet.

    An operation like this is extremely common. In fact, this is a reason given when a cottage food law is up for vote in legislature: essentially that the current laws, with their very high barrier to entry, are forcing so many producers under the table. It’s a sense of “people are doing it anyway, laws or not, so we might as well have laws that help hold them accountable.”

    What are your motivations to report this person? Has she gotten people ill? Is she running a large business that’s too big for her home? Is her business disturbing you (too much traffic in the neighborhood, for instance)?

    You might want to consider talking with this person directly about her motives. Maybe she is unaware, as many people are, that it is illegal to sell from home. Maybe she could help address whatever your concerns are. I can tell you with confidence that the health department is aware — very aware — that there are tons of businesses like this, in every state and county. I don’t know how much they’d react if you tried to report her… most departments are overbooked just with dealing with the legal businesses out there, especially as their funding has diminished in recent years. You’d probably make more headway talking to the individual.

    I know that if it were me, I wouldn’t bother trying to report it, and I might not even talk to her about it. Especially since she just does cakes and cupcakes… those are both cottage foods — non-potentially hazardous foods and unlikely to get anyone ill. Also, if she is directly selling to people who know her, then there is a good deal of accountability naturally happening there — might I say even more accountability for quality than a health department can guarantee? But the main reason I wouldn’t make an issue of it is because I know that if she were living in many other states, her operation would be totally legal, even without needing a basic permit in some. It’s a little unfortunate she lives in Illinois. I hope that helps.

Karen L Duncan

I am glad that Illinois has a cottage food law. However, I am not happy that we are restricted only to farmer’s markets. I don’t understand why the scope wasn’t enlarged to include home, food stands, events, or mail order. We are required to have a food service certificate (which I have). People have sold their baked goods for years. The law restricts us to sales only a few months during the year, completely missing the holiday season. Are there special permits available to cover the holiday season?

    Karen, you would need to become a commercial processor to sell outside a farmers market — that would mean using a commercial kitchen, not your home one. Cottage food laws are generally intended to help someone start a food business more easily, until they can afford to get the proper permits to expand.

    However, many cottage food laws that are this restrictive have gotten amended and improved over time. Usually it takes a dedicated individual in the state to make this happen — Roxane in Louisiana is a good example right now.

    Karen L Duncan

    Thank you for your reply, David.

    I would not want to have a commercial business, just a home one. I remember a person who sold fruitcakes every year from home. It seems to be a missed opportunity for people who are wanting to supplement their incomes with good products to be able to sell at any time of the year from their homes. I would be willing to get a tax number and pay Illinois taxes. We could sure use it!

    Check with your local Farmer’s Market and see if they plan to go year round. I know here in Carbondale our normal farmer’s market runs April through Nov. There is a second market that opened recently that is year round having their winter market in the gym of one of the schools.

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