Cottage Food Operation Laws

What Is the Cottage Food Operation Law?

The Cottage Food Operation law (P.A.097-0393) became effective in Illinois on January 1, 2012. This new law allows certain foods made in home kitchens to be sold at Illinois farmers’ markets with limited regulation. The purpose of the law is to promote and support the Illinois agriculture and cottage food industries.

A cottage food operation may produce homemade food and drink to be sold only at farmers’ markets. However, a cottage food operation, unless properly licensed, certified, and compliant with all requirements to sell a listed food item under the laws and regulations pertinent to that food item, shall not sell or offer the following food items or processed foods containing the following food items, except as indicated:

(A) meat, poultry, fish, seafood or shellfish;
(B) dairy, except as an ingredient in a non-potentially hazardous baked good or candy, such as caramel;
(C) eggs, except as an ingredient in a non-potentially hazardous baked good or in dry noodles;
(D) pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies, cheesecakes, custard pies, creme pies, and pastries with potentially hazardous fillings or toppings;
(E) garlic in oil;
(F) canned foods are prohibited under the Illinois FDA Food Code Chapter 3 Section 3-201.12;
(G) sprouts;
(H) cut leafy greens, except for leafy greens that are dehydrated or blanched and frozen;
(I) cut fresh tomato or melon;
(J) dehydrated tomato or melon;
(K) frozen cut melon;
(L) wild-harvested, non-cultivated mushrooms; and
(M) alcoholic beverages.

More information on the cottage food law and foods allowed to be sold can be found at the Illinois General Assembly information page.

The law does not allow these homemade products to be sold in retail stores or any location other than an Illinois farmers’ market. In addition, the products must meet specific labeling requirements, and the vendor must register the cottage food operation with the local health department where the business is located.

How Do I Operate Under the Cottage Food Law?

  1. Obtain an ANSI accredited Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certificate. CFPM course and exam fees vary by location, but in general range from $100-200. Certificates are valid for five years.
  2. Register with DuPage County Health Department at our online registration form (PDF). You will next need to register with us after you have received your Illinois Department of Public Health approved food service sanitation management certificate. The certification number from "Step 1" on the registration form is needed. Registration confirmation will be provided to you. You may need to take the registration confirmation with you to other counties. There is no fee for registration in DuPage County to operate under the Cottage Food Operations law. Registrations should be submitted to us annually. Please let us know whenever your contact information changes.
  3. Follow all other requirements in the law. You are responsible for all other provisions in the law, including but not limited to:
    • Product packaging,
    • Product labeling,
    • Displaying a placard with the required language,
    • Not exceeding gross receipts of $25,000 in a calendar year from the sale of food exempted under this law, and
    • Selling allowed foods only at farmers’ markets in Illinois.

Are There Any Fees Associated with Operating Under This New Law?

There is no fee to register with the DuPage County Health Department to operate under the Cottage Food Operations law. However, there are fees associated with the food service sanitation management certification training, certificate and related refresher courses.