Food Safety & COVID-19

Palmetto Priority

Palmetto Priority has been developed in collaboration with South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (SCRLA) and the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism to recognize the restaurants that fully commit to and follow the SCRLA re-opening guidance which was developed as part of Governor McMaster's accelerateSC taskforce. Palmetto Priority will be overseen by the SCRLA. Patrons are asked to take a quick online survey of their experience and to provide feedback. Read more about the program and its requirements on the Palmetto Priority web site.

With COVID-19 impacting how we conduct normal operations, DHEC’s Food Team has been working to develop innovative ways to continue to serve our community, while still ensuring public health protection. DHEC's restaurant inspection team has developed and implemented a method for preoperational inspections to be conducted virtually for new restaurants looking to open. This compliance assistance tool is allowing new businesses to open while we practice proper social distancing. Beginning April 14, 2020, our food teams around the state will be reaching out to facilities to schedule a food safety check.

Click here to see an example.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, DHEC developed a procedure for conducting a “Food Safety Check.” This virtual visit with operators has been highly successful and has provided a verification of food safety practices to those facility representatives who have participated. Food Safety Checks will continue to be done until July 1, 2020.

Click here to view a blank virtual food safety check report, click here to watch an example virtual food safety check, or click here to see a complete list of all establishments that have undergone a virtual food safety inspection.

On July 1st, we will begin conducting more comprehensive, “Limited Scope Inspections.” These inspections will be conducted on a pass/fail basis and will focus on the critical risk factors that are most likely to cause a foodborne illness. They will have a section devoted to observations related to the COVID-19 guidance and will be used as part of the Palmetto Priority program verification.

Click here to view a blank virtual Limited Scope Inspection Report.

All Food Safety Checks and Limited Scope Inspection Reports are being sent to SCRLA as part of the Palmetto Priority program. If you are interested in the Palmetto Priority program please visit the Palmetto Priority web site.

Video conferencing services including Microsoft Teams, Apple Facetime, Skype for Business, and Android Video Call are utilized during Food Safety Checks and Limited Scope Inspections. Please contact your local office to schedule your inspection. This virtual visit will allow us to protect our team, your team, and the public by providing social distancing while we conduct these important food safety inspections.

Food workers should never work when sick or touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands. They should carefully wash their hands with warm water and soap often.


Other steps you can take to help South Carolinians stay healthy include:

  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Appropriately dispose of tissues and other items you’ve coughed and sneezed into
  • Ensure routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as tabletops, countertops, doorknobs, etc.
  • Be prepared and informed

As part of our ongoing communications efforts, you may find the following materials and information helpful.


If you have questions about the restrictions on service, food sanitation or hygiene practices, please give us a call 803-896-0640 or email us.

Outreach Materials


Care Line Community Survey Retail Food Service Statewide