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Greenville Business Magazine

South Carolina Department of Agriculture Now in Charge of Restaurant Inspections, Milk Safety, More Duties

Jul 01, 2024 10:15AM ● By David Dykes

As of July 1, 2024, many 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 (SCDA).

The change is a result of legislation passed in May 2023 that eliminated DHEC and divided its programs among existing and new agencies.

1.      The 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.

  1. Milk Safety regulates fluid milk and grade “A” milk products such as yogurt.
  2. SCDA’s Laboratory Services department has taken over the Milk Lab and will be responsible for testing fluid milk samples and some milk products.
  3. 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.

The programs are part of SCDA’s Consumer Protection Division, which regulates many agricultural, food, and consumer-related services in South Carolina, including weights and measuring devices (including fuel pumps and grocery scales), animal and pet food, seeds, and produce farming.

Consumers will soon begin to see new SCDA-branded letter grade decals on Retail Food Establishment windows. The public can access the SC Food Grades system through the SCDA website or using the QR code on the decal to read inspection reports and view letter grades for Retail Food Establishments. 

While retail food safety officers will be based in the regions where they work, all administration has been centralized at SCDA’s State Farmers Market Campus.

DHEC’s regional offices will no longer be accepting payments or providing services relating to Retail Food Safety.

Go to SCDA’s website,, for further resources and information.

On July 1, 2024, DHEC became two separate agencies — the South Carolina Department of Environmental Services (SCDES) and the South Carolina Department of Public Health (DPH).