DHEC investigates about 3,000 consumer complaints a year. We investigate any credible complaints of foodborne illnesses believed to be linked to these establishments or products:
- Food from a retail food establishment such as a restaurant or deli, school cafeteria
- Frozen dairy foods
- Soft drinks
- Bottled water
If someone lodges a complaint about a foodborne illness involving your food establishment or product, we may interview you by phone or perform a scheduled inspection to investigate the alleged incident.
Imminent Health Hazards, Temporary Shut-Down
If we believe something in your processes or facility conditions post an imminent threat to public health, we may have to close down your operations until the threat is resolved.
When a food poisoning outbreak is suspected:
- We try to identify people who were exposed, and use symptoms, time of onset, and location of possible cases to develop a "case definition" and map typical cases.
- Stool or blood samples are collected from ill people and tested in our lab or the CDC's lab for diagnosis.
- We interview people who were possibly exposed — some who got sick and some who did not — to find out what they ate and drank, portions eaten, and other details.
- Once we identify the likely food item that most likely caused the outbreak, we investigate ingredients and process used to prepare the food, and we run tests on any leftover food or ingredients.
- We work to identify the ingredient or preparation mistake that caused the problem if a food handling mistake is the culprit, we will work with you to train your staff on safe handling procedures.