S.C. Department of Agriculture is now in charge of restaurant inspections, milk safety and more


COLUMBIA - As of July 1, 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. 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.

2. Milk Safety regulates fluid milk and grade "A" milk products such as yogurt.

3. SCDA's Laboratory Services department has taken over the Milk Lab and will be responsible for testing fluid milk samples and some milk products.

4. 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.

These 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.

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 regulated businesses as we continue to adjust our staffing and procedures.

Visit SCDA's website, agriculture.sc.gov, for further resources and information.


- South Carolina Department of Agriculture, (803) 734-2210; agriculture.sc.gov

- Consumer Protection Division, 123 Ballard Court, West Columbia, SC 29172; (803) 737-9700

- Retail Food Safety, 350 Ballard Court, West Columbia, SC 29172; retailfood@scda.sc.gov; (803) 896-0640; agriculture.sc.gov/retail-food-safety

- Milk Safety, 117 Ballard Court, West Columbia, SC 29172; milksafety@scda.sc.gov; (803) 896-0523; agriculture.sc.gov/milk-safety

- Laboratory Services, 123 Ballard Court, West Columbia, SC 29172; (803) 737-9700; agriculture.sc.gov/lab-services

- Food Safety (food manufacturing, RVCs), 123 Ballard Court, West Columbia, SC 29172; RVCregistration@scda.sc.gov; (803) 737-0147; agriculture.sc.gov/food-safety-compliance