Cottage Food/Farmers Market Operators

I'd like to Make and Sell Food Products. What Do I Need to Know?

Resources You Need to Produce & Serve Food Safely

Whether you operate a food establishment or would like to sell homemade foods, there are permits, applications, and registrations you need to know about.

If you want to sell a homemade food product, you can learn about the kinds of food products you are allowed sell - and how to produce food safely. You can also download registration forms.

What is a Cottage Food Operation?

Your project is a Cottage Food Operation if you produce or package non-potentially hazardous food in your home’s kitchen. It can only be intended for direct sale by you or a family member. Your product can only be stored in the residence where it was made.

Before you can produce and sell food products, you need to familiarize yourself with the Cottage Food Operation Act, Public Act 097-0393 (PDF). If you want to sell food under this public act, you must register with the county in which you live every year you intend to sell food products.

If a cottage food operator wants to provide samples of their product and it is a non TCS (Temperature Control for Safety) food, a sampling certificate can be obtained through the Illinois Department of Public Health website.

Why Was the Cottage Food Operation Act Created?

The Cottage Food Operation Act was created to promote agriculture and allow an avenue for value added products made in the home from locally produced fruits and vegetables and sold at farmer's markets. A farmer's market is defined as a “common facility or area where farmers gather to sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and other locally-produced farm and food products directly to consumers”.

For information on Cottage Foods/Farmers Markets and to learn about foods permitted to be sold, view these guides:

How Do I Register as a Cottage Food Operation?

  1. Before you register, please be certain your product is on the list of allowed food products.
  2. A person with a current Illinois Food Service Sanitation Management Certificate must prepare your product. You can learn how to earn this certificate on the following pages
    1. Illinois Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification offered by the Illinois Department of Health
    2. McLean County Food Service Managers and Food Handler Certification resources and training
  3. Once you are sure your operation and its products are in compliance, please fill out the following application for Cottage food and submit via email or mail it to:
    200 W Front Street, Room 304
    Bloomington, IL 61701

Cottage Food Application

Farmers Market Application

What Types of Food Products Are Eligible?

Only certain types of food products are eligible to be registered as Cottage Food Products. General categories include:

  • Dry herbs and blends
  • Fruit butters
  • Preserves
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Baked goods
  • Acidified vegetables

Before you begin production, be sure to check the Foods Not Allowed For Sale List to see if your product is listed or if it is not allowed - some types of fruits and vegetables are prohibited. You may create products that are combinations of allowable fruits and vegetables.

What Are the Packaging Label Requirements?

To be in compliance with the Public Act, your food will need to be labeled with the following information:

  • Name and address of your Cottage Food Operation
  • The common or usual name of the food product
  • All ingredients of the food product, including any colors, artificial flavors or preservatives. List your ingredients in order of highest proportion to lowest proportion by their common and usual names
  • The phrase, “This product was produced in a home kitchen not inspected by a health department that may also process common food allergens. If you have safety concerns, contact your local health department.”
  • The date the product was processed
  • Allergen labeling
  • Registration Certificate number assigned by the McLean County Health Department

At the Farmers’ Market, you must display a placard at the point of sale in a prominent place. It should state, “This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens.”