Cottage Food Industry Act to change face of Pekin Farmer’s Market
Several years ago, many local farmers and housewives were forced to pull their baked goods and jams from local farmers markets because they could not meet health department mandates….
Several years ago, many local farmers and housewives were forced to pull their baked goods and jams from local farmers markets because they could not meet health department mandates.
Pekin Main Street Executive Director Melida Heien said she is excited that these folks will be welcomed back to the market this summer after a change in the law allowing special circumstances for cottage food industry producers.
The Illinois Local Food Entrepreneur and Cottage Food Operation Act, which was sponsored by Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, and Rep. Lisa Dugan, D-Kankakee, became law Jan. 1. The law still mandates some limited Illinois Department of Public Health oversight of the cottage food industry.
This year’s Pekin Main Street Farmer’s Market will begin June 21. The market is open from 4 to 6 p.m. every Thursday through September. The end date for the market this year will be determined later, and will depend on what the farmers have left to offer.
Packets will be mailed this week or early next week to repeat vendors. People interested who were not a vendor last year may call Heien at 353-3100 to register or go to the Pekin Main Street website at www.pekinmainstreet.com for a vendor packet and registration form.
The law previously required home cooks selling their products to the public to meet the same rigid standards as restaurants — including inspections, special equipment and more.
Under the new law, home cooks must take a health department Food Service Sanitation Manager course. The course costs $80. Other rules may apply, depending on what products the individual hopes to sell. Some items require that recipes be tested by a state-certified facility to make sure the product has the proper pH balance.
Federal rules concerning allergens and labeling also are enforced.
Heien said the new law allows local vendors not only to make a little extra cash, it also allows them to test the local market to see if an expansion of their work beyond the limitations of the cottage industry law is viable.
“This allows people to test the market before jumping in with both feet and see if they can really hack it,” said Heien. “The whole purpose of the law is to give people the opportunity to be producers of local goods.”
Tazewell County Health Department Director of Environmental Health Evelyn Neavear said that about three people have registered under the new law. She said she didn’t really expect a lot of folks because the program is geared to test new business ideas — not really as a moneymaker. People are limited to $25,000 in profits as a cottage industry.
Neavear said that the fact that only three have registered in Tazewell County does not mean more will not appear at the farmers markets in the area. The registration is good throughout the state in any county.
This year will be the first year that Women’s, Infants, and Children Program coupons will be accepted. The WIC program changed several years ago to include fresh fruits and vegetables. The client is allowed to select a specific number of pounds of certain fresh fruits and vegetables.
The LINK card again will be accepted this year. Heien said Pekin Main Street started accepting LINK last year and the program worked very well. The vendor turns in receipts for LINK card purchases and Heien writes them a check. Heien runs the sale through a machine at the Pekin City Hall and bills the state for the purchase. The state reimburses Pekin Main Street for the payment within a week.
Acceptable cottage food industry products
• The production of such goods must follow FDA Food Code and subsequent amendments to the code for non-potentially hazardous baked goods, jams, jellies, fruit preserves, fruit butters, dry herbs, dry herb blends and dry tea blends that are intended for end-use consumption.
• Only high-acid jams, jellies, and preserves are permitted — apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, tangerine, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants or a combination of those fruits.
Any other jams, jellies, or preserves not listed may be produced by a cottage food operation, provided their recipe has been tested and documented by a commercial laboratory as containing a pH of less than 4.6.
• Only high-acid fruit butters are permitted — apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince and prune. Other varieties may only be produced after recipe testing.
• Baked goods such as, but not limited to, breads, cookies, cakes, pies and pastries are permitted. High-acid fruit pies explicitly permitted are apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, tangerine, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants or a combination of those fruits. Fruit pies not listed may be produced if the recipe is tested.
• Items not permitted include meat products, dairy products, canned vegetables, pickled products, raw seed sprouts and generally any food item that requires time and temperature control for food safety.
• Jams, jellies and preserves not allowed are rhubarb, tomato and pepper jellies or jams
• Fruit butters not allowed are pumpkin, banana and pear.
• Pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, cheesecake, custard pies, cream pies and pastries with potentially hazardous fillings or toppings are not permitted.
For additional information go to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Cottage Food Law page at http://www.ilstewards.org/content/12404.