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On June 27, 2014, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) began implementation of a new Retail Food Establishment Regulation. The new Retail Food Establishment Regulation (R.61-25) was revised so that it is now more closely aligned with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2013 Model Food Code. Until the adoption of the new regulation, DHEC had been operating on periodic updates to the 1993 FDA Food Code.
When do the new rules become effective?
The new food safety rules became effective in South Carolina on June 27, 2014.
What types of establishments are affected by the new rules?
The new regulation applies to all retail food establishments for which DHEC has oversight such as restaurants, delicatessens, snack bars, catering operations, ice cream parlors, school cafeterias, independent living food service operations, licensed healthcare facilities, temporary food establishments, grocery stores, retail meat markets, fish/seafood markets, retail ice merchants, shared-use operations, and mobile food establishments.
One of the more significant changes to the South Carolina regulation is the implementation of a new 3–Tier violation classification system that places violations in three categories – Priority, Priority Foundation, and Core.
The new regulation contains several significant changes affecting food service operators in the state.
New key definitions - Potentially hazardous foods are now called Time/Temperature Control for Safety Food (TCS). The definition of TCS food now includes raw or heat treated animal food, heat treated plant food, raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes, and garlic-in-oil mixtures.
No “bare hand contact” with ready-to-eat foods
Allowance of time as a public health control instead of temperature
Cooling of TCS foods from 130°F to 45°F within a total of 6 hours (See important information on delayed temperature implementation below.)
Designation of a Person In Charge (PIC) who must be present during all hours of food service operation
Requirement for employees to report diseases that are transmissible through food to the PIC
Reduction in required hot water temperatures from 140°F to not less than 110°F for general use and 110°F to 100°F for hand washing
Clear, consistent language for consumer advisories for food such as undercooked hamburger and tenderized whole muscle meats
Prohibition of offering or serving raw or undercooked comminuted (ground/minced etc.) meat from a children’s menu
Requirement for hair and beard restraints that are designed and worn to effectively prevent hair from contacting food and food contact surfaces and a definitive rule for fingernail length
Processes are provided for evaluating and allowing variances
The creation of a new combined application and permit document (new form) which will denote conditions and special provisions for that operation
The updated Retail Food Establishment Regulation created a completely new fifty-four (54) line item inspection form that provides details as to whether a condition is in or out of compliance, is not applicable to the establishment, was not observed during the inspection, was corrected during the inspection if found to be out of compliance, is a consecutive violation (penalty situation), or verification is required.
To see an example of the new inspection form please go to: www.scdhec.gov/FoodSafety/Docs/NewRegulation/1722A%20-%20RFE%20Inspection%20Report.pdf
Full implementation of several provisions in the new Retail Food Establishment Regulation will be delayed for 2 years.