SC Commissioner Weathers: Food Safety Transfer

I understand the South Carolina Department of Agriculture has twice as many employees as it did last week, and some new responsibilities. Here to tell us about it is Commissioner Hugh Weathers.

As of July 1, the food safety duties that were part of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) are now handled by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

The change is a result of legislation that eliminated DHEC and divided its programs among existing and new agencies.

We now regulate all food safety in SC except for meat and poultry.

  • Our new Retail Food Safety department regulates restaurant kitchens, grocery store delis, caterers, school cafeterias, some convenience stores, and certain other establishments that prepare food for on-site consumption.
  • Milk Safety regulates fluid milk and grade “A” milk products such as yogurt.
  • SCDA’s Laboratory Services department has taken over the Milk Lab and will be responsible for testing fluid milk samples and some milk products.
  • Businesses that were regulated by the former DHEC Manufactured Foods program – including ice, soft drinks, bottled water, frozen desserts, butter and cheese – are now regulated by SCDA’s existing Food Safety program, which oversees food manufacturing at the wholesale level.

What’s New:

  • Consumers will soon begin to see new SCDA-branded letter grade decals on Retail Food Establishment windows.
  • Retail Food Establishments will be able to apply for permits and pay fees online.
  • Grade A dairy businesses will notice new forms and permits and a new website.
  • No more regional offices: Administration has been centralized at SCDA’s State Farmers Market Campus. 

SCDA is committed to customer service and excited to take on these new responsibilities.

During the transition period, we ask for patience from the public and inspected businesses as we continue to adjust our staffing and procedures.