Category Archives: Health Regulation

DHEC Launches New Campaign Showcasing How We Are “Stronger Together”

DHEC relies on strong partnerships to realize our vision of “healthy people living in healthy communities.”

We have launched “Stronger Together,” a video series, to highlight our strategic partnerships with stakeholders throughout the Palmetto State. This campaign helps demonstrate why we as agencies, organizations, South Carolinians and state are better when we work together.

This campaign is also a continuation of our agency’s recent “We Are DHEC” series by leveraging inspirational video testimonials and stories to raise awareness about DHEC’s work in the community and illustrate our strategic plan. In addition, these spotlights will show our core values – Embracing Service, Inspiring Innovation, Promoting Teamwork and Pursing Excellence – in action.

DHEC is proud to recognize our employees and partners who help us encourage habits that lead to healthy people living in healthy communities. We truly are “Stronger Together.”

Pursuing Excellence to Enhance Food Safety at South Carolina Restaurants

To kick-start the campaign, we are spotlighting our teamwork with the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (SCRLA).

In 2013, DHEC started working with SCRLA on revising our Retail Food Establishments Regulations, to enhance food safety at restaurants across the state. It had been 20 years since the last update, so significant changes had to be made to bring South Carolina up to the most current food safety science.

Since then, we have partnered with the team at SCRLA every year to host informational meetings on regulation changes and food safety topics.

Sandra Craig, DHEC Director of the Division of Food and Lead Risk Assessments, enjoys talking with members of the food service industry and working with SCRLA to further promote the message of food safety in a manner that people will listen.

Douglas OFlahertyVice President of Operations for SCRLA, emphasized the importance of the partnership between SCRLA and DHEC, which allows the improvement of regulations and outlets to ensure food safety.

“It doesn’t matter how much you pay, all food should be safe,” OFlaherty said.

Our collective work to keep South Carolina’s retail food industry engaged in the regulatory process embodies DHEC’s core value of Promoting Teamwork and strategy of Education and Engagement.

 

 

Be a Food Safety Hero During National Food Safety Education Month

September is National Food Safety Education Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from eating contaminated food.

Follow these tips from the CDC to protect yourself and your loved ones from foodborne illness:

  • Clean: Wash hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces often when you cook. Germs are everywhere.
  • Separate: Keep fresh produce separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Use separate cutting boards and plates.
  • Cook: Always use a food thermometer to know when food is safely cooked.
  • Chill: Refrigerate perishable food and leftovers within two hours.

DHEC plays an important part in South Carolina’s food safety, including inspections, food grades, and education. Visit https://scdhec.gov/food-safety to learn more about DHEC’s role.

Swim Safe During Healthy & Safe Swimming Week

Pool season is officially here!  Even though swimming is a great recreational activity, be cautious about the water where you swim.  This week marks the 11th annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, where this year’s theme is “Pool Chemistry for Healthy & Safe Swimming.”

Many people do not think about the chemistry of the water before they dive.  Certain contaminations can lead to illness, including Cryptosporidium (or “Crypto”), Legionella and other recreational water illnesses.  Pool chemicals are added to maintain water quality and kill germs.  Each year, however, mishandling pool chemicals when treating pools, hot tubs, spas, and water playgrounds leads to 3,000-5,000 visits to emergency departments.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2009 there were approximately 301 million swimming visits each year by persons over the age of six.  Please refrain from getting in deep water levels if you cannot swim.  Each day, two children younger than 14 years old die from drowning.  Drowning is a leading cause of death for children 1-4 years old.

Healthy Swimming CDC_gif

Follow these tips for safe swimming this summer:

  • Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.
  • Contact a DHEC representative to get an inspection for a specific facility
  • Before getting in the water, do your own mini-inspection.
    • Use a test strip from your local retailer or pool supply store to check if the water’s pH and free chlorine or bromine levels are correct:
      • Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
      • pH: 7.0-7.8
      • Free chlorine: between 1-8 ppm in all recreational water bodies
      • Bromine: between 2.3-17.6 ppm in all recreational bodies
    • Rinse off in the shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off for just 1 minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on your body that could contaminate the water.
    • Don’t pee or poop in the water.

For additional inspection steps, visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/materials/infographic-inspection.html  Healthy swimming is safe swimming.  Keep yourself and your loved ones safe this summer and stay informed.

DHEC in the News: Kershaw County rolls out e-WIC cards, Mass hurricane preparedness exercise, Low rankings for restaurant scorecards

Here’s a look at health and environmental news around South Carolina.

E-WIC cards to replace WIC vouchers, now available in Kershaw County

ABC News 4 (Charleston)         WIS News (Midlands)

 

Restaurant Scorecards:  Low rankings in Myrtle Beach (WMBF) and the Midlands (The State)

Restaurants in Myrtle Beach and the Midlands receive significantly low inspection ratings.

 

Multi-agency exercise readies Midlands for worst-case scenario

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – Nearly 200 personnel participated in a large-scale mock disaster drill Friday at the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission hangar at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport designed to challenge and improve their response capabilities.

Food Recall Alert: P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Meals Due to Potential Presence of Foreign Material

More than 2 million pounds of P.F. Chang’s frozen meals have been recalled.  ConAgra Foods has expanded a voluntary recall of P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand products due to the potential presence of small metal fragments (2-9mm) in the sugar used in the sauce. This voluntary action has been taken because of impacted sugar from a supplier.

Foodborne foreign objects that are not hard and sharp and less than or equal to 7mm in length may cause minor injuries such as temporary reflexive choking and irritation of the gastrointestinal system.

There have been no reports of adverse reactions or injuries due to consumption of these products to date.

An initial recall was issued on July 7, 2016 after a ConAgra employee observed metal fragments while dispensing sugar from a supplier for a P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand sauce ingredient. On July 14, 2016, ConAgra Foods was notified that the initial recall needed to be expanded to include additional P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand meals.

Products covered by this recall were distributed in the U.S.  No other ConAgra Foods are impacted by this recall and these products are not served in P.F. Chang’s restaurants. Meals in P.F. Chang’s restaurants are made fresh every day and in every restaurant.

Visit the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for specific product names and information.

Consumers who have purchased these items are advised not to consume them and return them to the store where originally purchased. ConAgra Foods is cooperating with both the FDA and USDA on this recall and is working with customers to ensure the packages are removed from store shelves and are no longer distributed. Consumers with questions should call our Consumer Affairs hotline at 1-800-252-0634, open 9 am through 7 pm CDT, Monday through Friday.