The Home-to-Market Act went into effect Jan. 1, 2022. The Act amends the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act to allow cottage food vendors to sell directly to a consumer beyond a farmers’ market.
A cottage food operation is an operation conducted by a person who produces or packages food or drink, other than prohibited foods and drinks that are listed below, in a kitchen located in that person’s primary domestic residence or another appropriately designed and equipped kitchen on a farm for direct sale by the owner, a family member, or employee. Food and drink produced by a cottage food operation shall be sold directly to consumers for their own consumption and not for resale. Cottage food product CANNOT be made onsite at an event. A temporary food permit must be obtained to prepare food onsite at an event.
The following items may NOT be sold under cottage food:
- Meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish
- Dairy, except as an ingredient in a non-potentially hazardous baked good or candy, such as caramel, or as an ingredient in a baked good frosting, such as buttercream
- Eggs, except as an ingredient in a non-potentially hazardous food, including dry noodles, or as an ingredient in a baked good frosting, such as buttercream, if the eggs are not raw
- Pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies, cheesecakes, custard pies, crème pies, and pastries with potentially hazardous fillings or toppings
- Garlic in oil or oil infused with garlic, except if the garlic oil is acidified
- Low-acid canned foods
- Cut leafy greens, except for cut leafy greens that are dehydrated, acidified, or blanched and frozen
- Cut or pureed fresh tomato or melon
- Dehydrated tomato or melon
- Frozen cut melon
- Wild-harvested, non-cultivated mushrooms
- Alcoholic beverages
A cottage food operation within Vermilion County must register with the Vermilion County Health Department (VCHD). Product can be sold outside of the unit of local government where the cottage food operation is located but product cannot be sold outside of the State of Illinois. Cottage food vendors MUST reside in the State of Illinois. VCHD cannot register cottage food vendors who reside outside of the State of Illinois.
A cottage food vendor must obtain their Certified Food Protection Managers certificate prior to registering with VCHD. The course is an 8-hour ANSI approved course. The course can be completed online or in-person locally. Please ensure you complete the food MANAGERS course and not the food handler’s course. Courses can be found here.
What do I need to submit to VCHD to get registered?
- Registration form and $50 registration fee
- Home-Certification Self Checklist
- Certified food protection managers certificate
- Label example
- Satisfactory water sample results, if applicable
- If selling canned tomatoes and/or fermented/acidified food, you may also need to submit recipes, laboratory results, and a food safety plan (acidified/fermented food only)
- You will be issued a registration certificate with your registration number. This certificate must be posted at the point of sale.
Where can I sell my product?
- Farmers’ markets
- Fairs, festivals, public events, online (not across state lines)
- Pick up from private home or farm of the cottage food operator (please check with your local municipality to ensure home-based businesses are allowed under local zoning laws)
- Delivery to the customer
- Pickup from a third-party private property with the consent of the third-party holder
Please note: Only food that is non-potentially hazardous may be shipped. A cottage food product shall not be shipped out of state. Each cottage food product that is shipped must be sealed in a manner that reveals tampering (for example, sticker or pop top)
Food packaging must conform with the labeling requirements of the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. A cottage food product shall be prepackaged, and the food packaging shall be affixed with a prominent label that includes the following:
- the name of the cottage food operation and the unit of local government in which the cottage food operation is located;
- the identifying registration number provided by VCHD on the certificate of registration and the name of the county in which the registration was filed (Vermilion);
- the common or usual name of the food product;
- all ingredients of the food product, including any color, artificial flavor, and preservative, listed in descending order by predominance of weight shown with the common or usual names;
- the following phrase in prominent lettering: “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, please contact your local health department.”;
- the date the product was processed;
- allergen labeling as specified under federal labeling requirements (common allergens – milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish).
Point of sale placard
At the point of sale, notice must be provided in a prominent location that states the following: “This product was produced in a home kitchen not inspected by a health department that may also process common food allergens.” At a physical display, notice shall be a placard. Online, notice shall be a message on the cottage food operation’s online sales interface at the point of sale. The placard can be found here.
Cottage food vendors with a private water source (well, surface water, etc.)
For a cottage food operation that does not utilize a municipal water supply, a water sample must be submitted to verify that the water source being used meets public safety standards related to E. coli coliform. Cottage food vendors can pick up a free water sample bottle from VCHD to have their water tested. Please note, the sample must be taken directly into the bottles VCHD provides, please do not bring water samples into VCHD in your own container and expect to pour it into a bottle at VCHD.
In order to sell canned tomatoes or a canned product containing tomatoes, a cottage food operator shall either:
- Follow exactly a recipe that has been tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or by a state cooperative extension located in Illinois or another state. The Ball Blue Book is an approved source for recipes; or
- Submit the recipe, at the cottage food operator’s expense, to a commercial laboratory according to the commercial laboratory’s directions to test that the product has been adequately acidified; use only the varietal or proportionate varietals of tomato included in the tested recipe for all subsequent batches of such recipe and provide documentation of the annual test results of the recipe upon registration.
In order to sell fermented or acidified food, a cottage food operator shall either:
- Submit a recipe that has been tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or by a state cooperative extension located in Illinois or another state. The Ball Blue Book is an approved source for recipes; or
- Submit a written food safety plan for each category of products for which the cottage food operator uses the same procedures, such as pickles, kimchi, or hot sauce, and a pH test for a single product that is representative of that category. The written food safety plan shall be submitted annually upon registration and each pH test shall be submitted every 3 years.
A fermented or acidified food that is canned must be processed in a boiling water bath in a Mason-style jar or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. A fermented or acidified food that is not canned shall be sold in any container that is new, clean, and seals properly and must be stored, transported, and sold at or below 41⁰ F.
Baked goods with cheese
In order to sell a baked good with cheese, a cottage food operator must submit a recipe, at the cottage food operator’s expense, to a commercial laboratory to verify that it is non-potentially hazardous before allowing the cottage food operation to sell the baked good as cottage food.
In the event of a consumer complaint or foodborne illness outbreak, VCHD may:
- inspect the premises of the cottage food operation in question;
- set a reasonable fee for the inspection; and
- invoke penalties and the cessation of the sale of cottage food products until it deems that the situation has been addressed to the satisfaction of VCHD. VCHD may revoke the cottage food operation’s registration if the issue is not addressed.
Cottage Food Home Self Certification Checklist
Cottage Food Registration
Cottage Food Placard
Cottage Food Safety Plan
Cottage Food Hazard Analysis Chart or download an Example of a Completed Hazard Analysis Chart
University of Illinois Extension Cottage Food Handout