Illinois Cottage Food Law


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  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.

For help getting started, download the  and then contact your local public health department.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to contact us at isa@ilstewards.org or (217) 528-1563.

Background: On August 16, 2011 in honor of Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair, Governor Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 840, the Illinois Local Food Entrepreneur and Cottage Food Operation Act, also known as the Cottage Food Law. The Cottage Food Law is a step in an ongoing effort to create policies that support the burgeoning local food movement.  The Cottage Food Law creates new opportunities for farmers to engage in value-added processing, while making it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to start new local food businesses selling at one of Illinois’ 300-plus farmers markets. SB 840 was sponsored by Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria) and Representative Lisa Dugan (D-Kankakee).

On January 1st, 2012, Illinois Cottage Food Law officially went into effect. Since its initial passage, it has been refined and expanded by amendments that Illinois Stewardship Alliance worked to pass in both 2014 and 2015. In 2017, Illinois Stewardship Alliance championed the Illinois Food Freedom Act, which passed the state legislature unanimously in 2017 and was sponsored by Sen. David Koehler and Rep. Will Guzzardi. The bill flipped the cottage food paradigm from allowing nothing but a short list of foods to allowing everything except a list of foods that still must be made in a commercial kitchen. It went into effect Jan. 1, 2018. Read a blog post to learn more here: https://www.ilstewards.org/food-freedom-imagine-the-possibilities/. All of these changes are up to date in the 

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