Cottage Food Operators

I’d like to make and sell food products. What do I need to know?


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”.

To learn about foods permitted to be sold at Farmers’ Markets, view the Guidelines for Farmers' Markets (PDF).

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 email it to or mail it to: 200 W Front St, Room 304, Bloomington, IL  61701
Cottage Food 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 subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens.”
  • 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.”