Have you considered selling your homemade foods at a farmers market? There are basic guidelines that growers, cooks, and bakers must observe in preparation for farmers market sales. Learn about the latest legislation concerning Illinois Cottage Food law, and how to comply with safety standards to ensure that cottage food products are safe, healthy, and enjoyable for all. Read our Tips for Selling Food at Farmers Markets.

Business Requirements for Selling Cottage Food

  • Registered with the local county health department where you reside.
  • Registered as a vendor at the farmers market and contact the farmers market manager.
  • Products for sale are listed on the local county health department registration.
  • Products for sale are compliant with the Illinois Cottage Food Law are permitted for sale and labeled correctly.
  • The person preparing and selling the product has a valid Food Protection Manager Certificate (CFPM).
  • If preparing samples:
    • At the market: The person packaging has a valid CFPM and a Farmers Market Food Product Sampling Handler Certificate.
    • In the home kitchen: The person preparing has a valid CFPM, and products are individually wrapped or placed in sample cups with lids. A sign or product with a label listing food allergen ingredients must be displayed at the point of sale.

Health and Hygiene Requirements for selling Cottage Food

  • No symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, or a continuous runny nose.
  • No smoking, eating, or chewing gum during food preparation and serving.
  • Hair is restrained during food preparation and packaging; tied back or up; covered with a hat, hairnet, or scarf.
  • Cuts on wrists or hands are covered with a bandage and a disposable glove during food preparation and packaging.
  • Fingernails are short, cleaned, trimmed, and without fingernail polish during food preparation and packaging.

Kitchen Cleanliness

  • Pets are kept out of the kitchen during food preparation and packaging.
  • Countertops are cleaned and sanitized before and after production.
  • Paper towels are used to clean kitchen surfaces. If cloth towels are used, they have been washed in the hot cycle of the washing machine.

Food Preparation, Storage, and Transportation

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap; scrub hands, fingers, and wrists for 10-15 seconds; rinse and dry with paper towels before, after, and during food preparation.
  • Food for home consumption is prepared separately from food used for cottage food.
  • Raw meat, poultry, and fish are stored below ready-to-eat food in the refrigerator.
  • Food kept in the freezer is 0°F or lower and food kept in the refrigerator is 40°F or lower.
  • Potentially hazardous food is not left in the danger zone (40°F to 140°F) for more than 2 hours.
  • If transporting chilled food, a thermometer is placed in an insulated hard-sided cooler with enough ice or cooler packs to keep food at 40°F or below.
  • If transporting frozen food, a thermometer is placed in an insulated hard-sided cooler with dry ice to keep food frozen solidly.

What to Bring to the Market

  • Registration forms, CFPM certificate, copy of recipes, Farmers Market Food Product Sampling Certificate (if applicable).
  • Display (canopy tent, table, chairs, tablecloth, business signs, etc.).
  • A placard that reads "This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens.”
  • Business cards, promotional flyers.
  • Cash box with adequate change, calculator, receipt book with pen and tablet to record transactions.
  • Shopping bags for customers.
  • First aid kit.
  • Hand sanitizer or portable hand washing station.
  • Personal items (extra clothing, water, snacks, etc.).

Food Testing Labs

The labs listed below are a few examples of private accredited labs that may provide food testing, such as pH, nutritional analysis, contaminant, allergen, and shelf-life testing. Lab testing may vary in price and is subject to change. Contact the lab for pricing and to determine how samples should be packaged for shipping. 

  • Certified Laboratories of the Midwest (does not test for pH only)
    2505 Diehl Road, Aurora, IL 60502 | Phone (630) 783-8600 | www.certified-laboratories.com
  • IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group 15300 Bothell Way NE
    Lake Forest Park, WA 98155 | Phone (206) 522-5432 | www.iehinc.com
  • Deibel Labs
    7120 N. Ridgeway Ave Lincolnwood, IL 60712 | Phone (847) 329-9900 | www.deibellabs.com
  • EMSL Food Testing
    200 Rt. 130 N. Cinnaminson, NJ 08077  | Phone: (312) 590-4870 | www.foodtestinglab.com
  • Q  Laboratories Inc.
    1400 Harrison Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45214 | Phone (513) 471-1300 | www.qlaboratories.com