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Selling Homemade Food in Illinois

People who want to sell homemade food in Illinois must first decide where they will meet their customersThe state maintains one set of rules for setting up a booth at farmers’ market, and a different set of rules for sales at other venues such as private residences and roadside stands. 

Illinois cottage food operations

Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Illinois cottage food laws, updated in 2017apply only to sales at farmers’ markets. The only exception is for farmers, who can sell home-grown food on site or make deliveries directly to their customers. Cottage food producers in Illinois may sell any homemade food or drink except meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, pumpkin pies, cheesecakescanned food, sprouts, leafy greens, melons, mushrooms, alcohol and certain other products that require refrigeration. Read more… 

Illinois home kitchen operations

An amendment to the Illinois Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act, passed in 2017creates special rules for “home kitchen operations.” People who operate this type of business may sell homemade food directly to consumers at a variety of venues. Unfortunately, the law applies only in jurisdictions where a municipality, township or county has adopted ordinances authorizing home kitchen operations. Few jurisdictions have opted in, which means most people in Illinois cannot set up home kitchen operations.Other restrictions apply, even where home kitchen operations are allowed. Monthly gross sales cannot exceed $1,000. Food must be packaged, stored and labeled a specific way. Anthe only food that can be sold are baked goods, such as breads and cookies, and high-acid fruit pies. Read more… 

Illinois cottage food facts

Myths about cottage food abound. Here are the facts: 

  • Cottage food is safe. Critics who talk about the risk of food-borne illness give hypothetical examples of what could go wrong because real-world cases are rare or nonexistent. 
  • Cottage food is local. When neighbors trade with neighbors, money stays in the local economy. 
  • Cottage food is transparent. People who buy from a cottage food producer know what they get. If they have questions about ingredients, sourcing or safety, they can ask.
  • Cottage food creates jobs. Many homemade food producers use their income to provide for their families. Others seek a secondary or supplemental income. 
  • Cottage food empowers women. IJ cottage food research shows that most cottage food producers are women, and many live in rural areas with limited economic opportunity.
  • Cottage food expands consumer choice. Some stores simply don’t sell what you want. This is especially true if you have a gluten-free, peanut-free, halal, kosher or vegan diet. Cottage food fills market gaps, giving consumers more options.

Illinois cottage food resources 

As part of its Food Freedom Initiative, the Institute for Justice provides a variety of resources for home bakers and other food entrepreneurs. These include: 

Tell your Illinois story

Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Illinois? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here… 

Support Illinois legislation

Help expand cottage food laws in Illinois by teaming with the Institute for Justice. Send an email with your name, background information and availability to get started… 

Defending homemade food freedom nationwide 

People have a right to earn an honest living without arbitrary and excessive government interference. Since 2013, the Institute for Justice has defended home bakers and chefs as part of its Food Freedom Initiative. Read about IJ’s nationwide food freedom advocacy…

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All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Statutes, regulations, and processes are subject to change at any time, and specific facts and circumstances could alter how they are applied. If you have questions about the regulation of cottage foods in your jurisdiction, we recommend consulting a lawyer who can help you navigate the process. 

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