Restaurant Report Card: Spotting the red flags

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — The Charleston area is known for its high-quality food and restaurants. There are thousands of restaurants across the Lowcountry. The Count on 2 investigators want to make sure what’s goes on in the restaurant that you don’t see is sanitary.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control inspects restaurants and gives them a health grade. You’ll typically see that grade posted on the restaurant’s door or inside.

Each week, Consumer Investigator Libba Holland will feature the grades of some of our area restaurants—both good and bad.

Frist, we got some background information about DHEC inspections from instructors at the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College.

All students in the culinary program are required to take a sanitation class and learn the proper way to maintain a healthy kitchen.

Chef Ben Black has been teaching in culinary for 24 years, so he has high standards for restaurants.

He says you can tell a restaurant’s sanitation quality as soon as you walk inside.

“If it does not look clean upon entering the building, and the staff isn’t in a clean pressed uniform, and they’re touching their eyes, hair, and nose and not washing their hands, I’m not eating there,” said Black.

Black explained areas in a commercial kitchen that DHEC typically inspects.

Black says everything that’s washed and sanitized must air dry. He also said dishwashing machines and dishwashing water has a minimum degree requirement. All refrigerators must be 41 degrees, and all refrigerated foods must maintain that temperature until cooked or consumed. You can find many other DHEC requirements here.

All the culinary students and faculty at trident tech are required to take the Serve Safe Manager course and pass a national test that will them give them a certification. DHEC requires at least one person at every restaurant to have that certification.

Black says if a restaurant’s grade is a C, he says he won’t eat there.

In fact, he said, “if it’s below an A, I’m not eating there.”

Between October of 2016 and October of 2017, 85 restaurants in Charleston County scored a C grade in its DHEC inspection.

To look up a particular restaurant, click here.

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