By Lisa Rodgers


BOONE COUNTY-The Belvidere Daily Republican (BDR) has sought clarification of public statements by the Boone County Health Department (BCHD) on rhubarb. The BDR has reached out to State Representative Joe Sosnowski for assistance in contacting the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) for answers.

The BDR was informed that IDPH would contact the Boone County Health Department to explain that rhubarb is a non-potentially hazardous food item under home kitchen operations.

On Oct. 7, the following statement was issued from IDPH: “Rhubarb was not originally included in the listing of non-potentially hazardous items.  Only high-acid fruit pies were included (rhubarb is technically a vegetable).

*Please note the following answers will only be applicable to the (410 ILCS 625/) Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act from the present time until Dec. 31 as an amendment will become effective Jan. 1, 2016 significantly changing the law ( .

With the assistance of Representative Joe Sosnowski’s office, the following questions were submitted by the BDR to IDPH. The italic portion is the response from IDPH.

For clarification purposes “non-potentially hazardous” baked goods are defined instatute such as, but not limited to, breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries (410 ILCS625/4(b)(1)(C).

The types of fruit pies that are permissible and not permissible by home kitchen and cottage food operations is defined under 410 ILCS 625/4(b)(1)(C).

  1. Has Illinois ever prohibited the sale or consumption of rhubarb in any form?

*Yes; however, there exist exemptions for baked goods within home kitchen operations.

  1. Under the current law, is rhubarb (as a baked good) considered “non-potentially hazardous” under Home Kitchen Operation (410 ILCS 625/3.6)?

* IDPH considers rhubarb baked goods to fall within the parameters of a “non-potentially hazardous” baked good item under home kitchen operation.

*Rhubarb pie is not specifically stated as allowable in statute; however, IDPH considers rhubarb pie as a “non-potentially hazardous” baked good item under home kitchen due to the pH level of 3.1-3.4.

  1. Under current law, are non-for profits considered home kitchen or cottage food operation?

* To determine if a non-for profit falls under the guidelines of home kitchen or cottage food operation depends on the type of event.

*Example a church potluck is considered a private event, as defined by Section 3.1 of the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act. If the event meets the definition of potluck as defined, then no law prohibits the types of products to be served. If the church event exceeds the definition of potluck than the local health department enforcement falls within the oversight of IL Food Service Sanitation Code Part 750.

4.Under current law can rhubarb pies, jams, jellies, butters or preserves be sold at Farmer’s Markets?

*No. Rhubarb may not be sold in any form at Farmer’s Markets. Farmer’s Markets are defined as cottage food operations. Cottage Food Operations are prohibited from selling products containing rhubarb.

  1. Under current law, can rhubarb pies, jams/jellies, butters and preserves be sold at bake sales?

* Rhubarb types of jams/jellies, butters and preserves are not considered permissible to be sold at bake sales.

* Even though Rhubarb pies are not explicitly referenced rhubarb pies maybe sold at baked sales, because the pH level is considered “non-potentially hazardous.” at 3.1-3.4

*If the local government has not passed an ordinance to allow “non-potentially hazardous” baked goods to be sold from home kitchen operations than “non-potentially hazardous” baked goods must be made in commercial kitchens. (PA 98-0643) adopted 6/10/14 – Statute Citation: 410 ILCS 625/3.6(c).

(c) This Section applies only to a home kitchen operation located in a municipality, township, or county where the local governing body has adopted an ordinance authorizing the direct sale of baked goods as described in Section 4 of this Act.
(Source: P.A. 98-643, eff. 6-10-14; 99-78, eff. 7-20-15.)

On Sept. 22, the BDR submitted a FOIA request to the BCHD via their email with the main questions being one. Does Boone County have a local ordinance regulating the operations of home kitchens? 2. Does Boone County have a local ordinance regulating the sale or consumption of non-potentially hazardous foods? As of the online publication of article, the BDR has not received a response.

The Belvidere Daily Republican would like to thank Rep. Sosnowski’s office and IDPH for their assistance in obtaining information for this article.

The next Boone County Board of Health meeting will be Monday, Nov. 2 at noon at 1204 Logan Ave. in Belvidere in the BCHD conference room.


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