Law Will Ease Regulatory Burdens for Small Producers in Illinois

New Illinois Law Will Ease Regulatory Burdens for Small Food Producers

Illinois SB 840, exempts small, home-based food businesses producing certain “non-hazardous” food from state licensing and inspection oversight. This represents a significant change to the state’s regulatory scheme for food products – previously, all food sold to consumers had to be made in commercial kitchens licensed and inspected by the Illinois Dept of Health. The Illinois legislature follows at least twenty other states that have either passed or are considering similar legislation. The bill incorporates the FDA Food Code’s definition of “non-potentially hazardous food,” but also declares a variety of specific foods – primarily baked goods, certain fruit jams and jellies, and herb and tea blends – to be “non-hazardous.” The core of the bill is a provision that prohibits both IDPH and local health departments from regulating the sale of these goods by cottage food producers. This inspection exemption applies only to cottage food operations with gross receipts less than $25,000 per year. The push for cottage food bills represents the idea that food safety regulation should (1) be scale-appropriate, and (2) target high-risk products.

4 Comments on Law Will Ease Regulatory Burdens for Small Producers in Illinois

  1. Thank God for that. The intentions are very different, and it’s very hard for small producers to compete.

    • Thanks Mil,

      This is a controversial subject, but it’s certainly true that small farms typically have fewer human and capital resources to deal with increasingly complex and burdensome federal regulations.

  2. This is a good idea – I strongly support focusing enforcement on lower-hazard foods. IMO, exempting small producers from safety standards enforcement simply because they are small has been a weakness of ‘go local’ movements. (Germs don’t care if you’re a small producer or not.) I think this sounds like a good middle ground. The only caveat is that until E. coli started showing up in sprouts, bean and alfalfa sprouts were considered a low hazard fresh fruit & veggie.

    • Appreciate your comments.

      Actually sprouts have high levels of natural toxins. You’re right about small farms being perfectly capable of being infected. And I honestly have nothing against big farmers (within reason). But when small farms are infected, outbreaks are generally less severe because there is less crop going to fewer locations. And as a trained plant pathologist, I tend to look at a large field with just one one crop growing in it as a giant petri plate.

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