Cottage Food

Is your home-based business meeting new Illinois guidelines for the Cottage Food Law?

Whether for a hobby or as a career, selling food grown or made in your home carries endless possibilities for enjoyment and profit. It also carries substantial responsibilities for the safety of the public who purchases and consumes your food products. Major changes took effect January 1, 2022 in the Cottage Food Operation Law's Home-to-Market Act. Illinois Extension is your guide to operating within the new regulations. Outshine the rest and grow your home-based business. 

Resources

New places to sell your products

The new law allows cottage food operators to sell in more locations than just Illinois farmers markets. You can now sell products at fairs, festivals, pop-up events, and from your home or farm. The law allows online sales delivered to consumer or shipped within Illinois. In addition, it includes clarifications to products such as buttercream icing and acidified and fermented foods.

The Cottage Food Law is designed for small home-based business development. There is no limit on gross income from the sale of these homemade foods by cottage food vendors.

We've come a long way together.

Before the Cottage Food law, Illinois farmers and food entrepreneurs had to prepare their product in a licensed commercial kitchen, an expensive cost that made it difficult to start or grow a small business. To help food entrepreneurs and to support the sales of local foods, the Illinois Cottage Food Operation Law was enacted on January 1, 2012 and was limited to only selling non-potentially hazardous baked goods, jams, jellies and preserves, and dried herbs. These specific food products were for direct sale to the public at Illinois farmers markets.

In 2018, the Cottage Food Operation Law greatly expanded the type of foods allowed for sale by Illinois vendors to include chilled foods, canned tomato products, pickles, and much more. The Illinois Stewardship Alliance, in what they dubbed the “Illinois Food Freedom Act," championed the 2018 amendment. The 2021 changes opens the door to more expansion for home-based businesses like yours.

University of Illinois Extension provides this educational website, which offers detailed information about the newly amended Illinois Cottage Food Operation Law. This website is for cottage food vendors and prospective vendors. It includes cottage food operator requirements, conditions, and safe food handling practices to ensure the public's safety.