Guidlines for Farmer’s Markets

Guidlines for Farmer's Markets

Food Prohibited from Sale or Distribution

The following products are prohibited from sale or distribution to the public.

  • Wild-type mushrooms harvested from the wild
  • Home-canned foods- except jams, jellies, and preserves that are allowed under cottage food operations
  • Raw mild or any dairy products made with raw milk
  • Ice cream made in an uninspected facility
  • Home-butchered meat, poultry or wild game
  • Home vacuum-packaged products
  • Sandwiches prepared at home

Permitted Items with No Restrictions

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables—only minimally rinsed to remove visible soil, but otherwise unprocessed
  • Grains, seeds, beans, nuts—whole, unprocessed and unsprouted
  • Popcorn—kernels can be removed from cob but popped corn is not exempt from restrictions
  • Fresh herb sprigs, dried herbs in bunches—only cut for harvesting, minimally rinsed to remove visible soil
  • Honey—in the comb or that is removed from the comb and in an unadulterated condition is exempt if producer packs or sells less than 500 gallons per year.

Retail or Wholesale

Aside from raw agricultural products or cottage food products, the facility and processes for all other goods intended for direct retail sale or distribution, as items intended for end-use only, must be inspected by the local health department.

Permitted Items with some Restrictions

For more details on restrictions of these foods please contact the Mason County Health Department.

  • Mushrooms—cultivated mushrooms or commercially raised mushrooms are allowed for sale as long as operators have documentation detailing their source.
  • Cut fruits and vegetables—once whole produce is cut, they are required to be held before 41 F. If operators wish to sell cut fruits and vegetables as samples, they need to follow the sampling requirements.
  • Chopped, blended, packaged, or otherwise processed herbs must be prepared in an inspector facility.
  • Herb vinegars shall be made in an inspected facility and be properly labeled.
  • Maple and other flavored syrup must be bottled in an inspected facility and must follow the labeling requirements
  • Apple cider, fruit, and vegetable juices shall be made in an inspected facility.
  • Garlic-in-oil shall only be sold if processed in an inspected, commercial processing plant.
  • Other flavored oils shall be made in an inspected facility.
  • Milk and cheese products shall be processed in a Department/state-licensed facility. Perishable dairy products shall be stored at 41 F or below and be properly labeled.
  • Raw milk cheeses may be sold if made in a licensed dairy plant and if cured at a temperature of not less than 35 F and aged more than 60 days.
  • Ice cream may be sold if it is manufactured in a licensed diary facility or in a retail food establishment from commercially pasteurized ice cream mix.
  • Eggs-must have an egg license issued by the IDOA. Once at the farmer’s market, they need to be held at 41 F or below.

Cottage Foods

Please contact the Mason County Environmental Health Division for information on cottage foods (ex: jams, jellies, butters), baked goods, and cottage food labeling requirements.


All food pre-packaged in advance of retail sale that does not fall under the cottage food act must bear the following label, sign or placard, or recipe as available to the consumer: common name of the product, net contents (weight or volume) of the package, all ingredients of the food product, safe handling instructions, all allergens, and any other labeling required by specific food items.


Those wishing to provide samples or demonstrations should contact the Mason County Health Department to determine if it is necessary to obtain a Temporary Food Service Permit for the sampling.


Handwashing is required when produce or any food item is sliced, cut or prepared on site or off site. Handwashing facilities must be provided if any of the following activities are being conducted: cutting, slicing, or dicing fresh fruits or vegetables, preparing food on site, serving potentially hazardous foods. Contact the MCHD to determine if a handwashing facility is required. If you have questions about setting up a handwashing station please contact the MCHD.

Information for this handout was obtained from the “Illinois Farmers Market Food Safety: A guide for Vendors, Market Managers and Consumers” produced by the Illinois Farmers Market Task Force and the Illinois Department of Public health Division of Food, Drugs and Dairies.

If you require any more information, more details can be found in the “Illinois Farmers Market Food Safety: A guide for Vendors, Market Managers, and Consumers” or you can contact the Mason County Environmental Health Division at (309) 210-0110 ext. 240 or (309) 210-0110 ext. 228.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter