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When it comes to selling food from home Illinois, certain guidelines and regulations must be followed in order to legally sell your homemade food. Before we get into the details of how to start a food business from home in Illinois, it is important to understand a few items. First, the answer to your question, “Do I need a license to sell food from my home?” is yes. You will need to complete certain certification courses before you can even begin production. If you live in Chicago, you must follow a different procedure in order to obtain your permit to sell food from home.
The home kitchen operation law Illinois is the set of legal regulations that are set forth by the state government. This law permits residents to run small food operations out of their homes. Only certain items may be packaged and sold, such as jams, jellies, baked goods, and others. Food ingredients must be properly labeled, stored, and disposed of per county guidelines. Additionally, gross monthly sales cannot exceed $1,000.
The penalty for selling food without a permit is steep. Any person discovered to have illegal home kitchen operations in Illinois will face fines and/or charges from the state’s prosecutor. Detailed information about the extent of the charges are not available online. However, the process of Illinois selling food from home is simple and cost-effective, so no one (including you, reader) should move forward without first obtaining the proper permits, certifications, and inspections.
When entrepreneurs like yourself first start looking into how to start a food business in Illinois, it wasn’t as easy as it was today. The original Illinois Cottage Food Law only pertains to those in farmer’s markets. Since many vendors wanted to showcase their goods, the state legislators created the Cottage Food Laws. This allowed farmer’s to use their own agricultural products to make simple prepared items. This often included jellies and jams. Any items that required specific refrigeration or storage were prohibited from being sold.
In 2014, the state of Illinois updated its home kitchen operation law to include a group that had previously been excluded: bakers and homemakers. Under the cottage laws, baked goods could not be prepared or sold. The Cupcake Law Illinois changed everything. Now, bakers can create their baked goods and sell them from their home.
Fast-forward to the Illinois Cottage Food Law 2021, now any person (not just farmers) can produce food in their own kitchens and sell it. Of course, there are some limitations. According to the law, the following items are prohibited: meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, pumpkin pies, cheesecakes, canned food, sprouts, leafy greens, melons, and mushrooms.
Regardless if you will be operating under the Cottage Food Law or the Cupcake law, almost all jurisdictions will require you to obtain a home kitchen license Illinois. Just like with all laws in the state, each county and individual municipality can add their own regulations to the law. Check with your local health department to see if you need to follow anything specific for your Illinois home kitchen operation.
We know you are wondering, “What happens if you get caught selling food without a license?” The first thing that that will happen is you will be shut down immediately. From there, you will either receive a fine for selling food from home and/or receive criminal charges. The time and resources you will spend after you are caught will be far greater than the initial investment to start your homemade food business in Illinois correctly from the beginning.
Anyone who desires a Chicago home kitchen operation will need to go through a more detailed process than what is required by many other jurisdictions. Since Chicago is the largest city in the state, the local legislators require a few more steps from entrepreneurs who wish to start their Cook County home kitchen operation.
The question, “Does Cook County allow home kitchen operations?” is quite popular, and the answer is yes. The county and city of Chicago both allow home operations to anyone who complete the following three steps:
While Chicago and Cook County do not require fees in order to register, there are fees associated with certifications and other education courses required to efficiently run your homemade food business.
These nearby counties have the following home business operation guidelines:
Always consult with your local regulators or a lawyer to make sure that your home-based food business in Illinois is compliant.
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