The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) prohibits the sale of home-prepared foods at its Farmer's Markets. However, independent farmer's markets in Chicago, as well as farmer's markets outside of Chicago, may allow such foods to be sold. If you wish to sell home-prepared foods at these locations, and the home that you prepare these foods is located in Chicago, you must register with the Chicago Department of Public Health.
What is the Cottage Food Operation law?
The Cottage Food Operation law (P.A.097-0393) became effective in Illinois on January 1, 2012. This new law allows certain foods made in home kitchens to be sold at Illinois farmers’ markets with limited regulation. The purpose of the law is to promote and support the Illinois agriculture and cottage food industries.
The products that can be made in a home kitchen and sold at a farmers’ market include:
• Certain fruit-based jams, jellies and preserves.
• Fruit butters.
• Baked goods (i.e. breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries).
• Dried foods (i.e. herbs and teas).
For a complete list of the foods allowed to be sold follow the link at the end of this paragraph to view a copy of the entire law. The law does not allow these homemade products to be sold in retail stores or any location other than an Illinois farmers’ market. In addition, the products must meet specific labeling requirements and the vendor must register the cottage food operation with the local health department where the business is located. For more information on this new law, you can click here to access a copy of the law.
How do I operate under this new law?
If you would like to operate under the Cottage Food Operation law please follow these simple steps:
Step 1) Obtain a Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) food service sanitation certificate.
Step 2) Register with the Chicago Department of Public Health
You will next need to register with us. The certification number from Step 1 is needed to be entered onto the registration form. The registration form may be downloaded from our website by clicking here. The completed and signed registration form may be returned to us via the following options:
The Chicago Department of Public Health
Food Protection Program
2133 W. Lexington Street, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60612
Fax: (312) 746-8099
Please allow 5 business days to process your registration form.
Registration confirmation will be provided to you. You may need to take the registration confirmation with you to other counties. There is no fee for registration in Chicago. Registrations should be submitted to us annually. Please let us know whenever your contact information changes.
Step 3) Follow all other requirements in the law.
You are responsible for all other provisions in the law including but not limited to:
• Product packaging,
• Product labeling,
• Displaying a placard with the required language,
• Not exceeding gross receipts of $25,000 in a calendar year from the sale of food exempted under this law, and
• Selling allowed foods only at farmers’ markets in Illinois.
Are there any fees associated with operating under this new law?
There is no fee to register with the Chicago Department of Public Health. However, there are fees associated with the food service sanitation management certification training, certificate, and related refresher courses.
How can I obtain a paper copy of the registration form?
Please call (312) 746-8030 for more information or to request a paper copy of the registration form be mailed to you.