A new Illinois law took effect on Jan. 1, 2012, that allows producers of food prepared in their homes, who are registered with the Evanston Health Department, to sell specific items at farmers’ markets with no fees from the Department. Governor Pat Quinn signed the measure into law last summer at the Illinois State Fair.

“The best way to celebrate Illinois’ agricultural strength is by making it easier for Illinois residents to buy fresh foods and support farmers and local economies,” Governor Quinn said. “Farmers’ markets allow us to buy fresh, healthy produce and other homemade goods directly from the people who make them, and this legislation will enable those business owners to sell directly to consumers while making sure safety standards are consistent for all markets throughout the state.”

This new law for “Cottage Food Vendors” is an opportunity for residents to earn money by producing foods at home for sale at Illinois farmers’ markets. Sellers may not earn more than $25,000 in gross receipts in a calendar year.

The Evanston Health Department has posted information on its website here>>>, the new state law and its requirements, including:

  • A copy of the law
  • A registration form with instructions
  • Information on where sellers can obtain food manager certification training, which is required by the law
  • A list of foods that are either allowed or prohibited
  • Food labeling requirements that must be met by sellers

Sellers must display a placard that states: “This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection and a kitchen that may also process common food allergens.”

Food products that will be allowed for sale under the law 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)

Foods sold under this new law can only be sold at farmers’ markets

Larger sellers and the foods they produce are not exempted by the new law and are still required to comply with existing regulations and obtaining proper permits.

For more information please call the Evanston Health Department at 847/866-2949 or by email at safefood@cityofevanston.org.