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S.C. does fewer restaurant inspections than federal guidelines

South Carolina only has enough restaurant inspectors to do about half of the yearly checks recommended by the federal government.

Although the state has added about 1,200 new restaurants, schools and supermarkets in the past five years, the number of inspectors has remained at about 72, according to Wallace Sheridan with the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The low staffing means each place gets inspected an average of two times a year. The federal government recommends at least four inspections annually.

The food program’s budget grew from $5.9 million in 2003 to $6.8 million in 2004, but Sheridan said the agency chose to give employees their first raise in three years. To compensate, DHEC has eliminated routine inspection of camps, mobile home parks and hotel rooms to focus on food safety.