Learn about the laws regulating food made and sold from your home.
What do homemade jams and jellies, baked goods, and sauerkraut have in common? They are all eligible to be made in home kitchens and sold at farmers markets under the Cottage Food Law, which went into effect January 2012 and was significantly expanded by the Illinois Food Freedom Act in 2017. Illinois joined the many other states across the country that support the growing local food movement by crafting risk and scale appropriate laws regulating local food businesses.
To make things easier for potential cottage food operations we have put together a 2018 Cottage Food Guide that describes what the law does and does not allow and what you have to do to qualify as a cottage food operation.
If you are planning on starting a cottage food operation, it is highly recommended that you reach out to your local health department early and start a conversation about your cottage food related plans. Please note, a cottage food operation could still be held liable if its food products sicken consumers, so plan accordingly to protect yourself and your customers. Best practices include purchasing insurance and testing canned products for an acidity level of 4.6 or lower pH. Many farmers markets require insurance, so you can ask your local market manager or other vendors which insurance they suggest in your area.