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Food Safety for Industry


A critical violation is more likely than other violations to contribute to food contamination, illness, or environmental degradation.

A non-critical violation would be less likely to contribute to a foodborne illness but which does affect the overall sanitation level of the facility. Examples would be an unclean floor or walls.


If violations are repeatedly ignored and remain uncorrected after a series of follow-up inspections, we will eventually issue a more formal notice to correct the problem(s). We will do another follow-up inspection 10 days later.

Any uncorrected violations we find at that point can lead to fines.

Shut Downs

If we find a critical violation that poses an imminent health hazard, we may have to shut down operations until the violation is corrected. An imminent health hazard is any violation or combination of violations that may immediately jeopardize the health of the public and which the facility does not or is unable to correct immediately.

We try to work with owners and managers to avoid the shut down option if at all possible.

Improve Your Score

When you first open for business and are issued a retail food establishment permit, you will start out with an “A” score.

DHEC will re-inspect your facility and food handling processes 30 days after you open for business, at which time, your score could stay the same or end up lower, depending on what we find.

Tips to help you get the most from your inspections

  • Talk openly with your DHEC inspector about any concerns or problems you are having and always ask a lot of questions.
  • Get into the habit of continually monitoring all critical risk factors and take corrective action when needed.
  • Identify your high-risk foods and analyze, step-by-step, how those foods are prepared. Make sure that at each step, employees follow procedures that prevent cross contamination.
  • Always take food temperatures to make sure food has been heated or cooled to required temperatures.
  • Make sure that anyone handling food at your establishment washes their hands frequently, especially whenever changing activities.
  • Never allow an employee who is sick with symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and vomiting to handle food or be near food preparation areas.