Melissa Magstadt, South Dakota Secretary of Health

Frequently Asked Questions

Inspection Program Overview: Food Service | Lodging

How often are facilities inspected?

Licensed food service establishments are inspected at least twice a year. Lodging and campground establishments are inspected annually.

Scores from the last 2 years of inspections are posted for each licensed establishment. When a new score is posted, the oldest score is removed.

Do facilities know when they will be inspected?

Inspections are not announced, and establishments are not notified in advance. 

How is the inspection score determined?

Inspectors go onsite to review establishment compliance with South Dakota statute and administrative rule (linked below). Violations of those codes result in point deductions based on the risk presented to public health. Points are subtracted from a perfect score of 100 points for food inspections. Lodging inspections are now based on an "in/out" format. Critical violations mean a greater point deduction because they are more serious and a greater risk to public health. Inspectors also consider such factors as whether there is a pattern of a repeat violations at a particular establishment.

SDCL 34-18 - Health Regulation of Lodging, Food Service, Campgrounds
ARSD 44:02:07 - Food Service Code
SDCL 34-18-22.3 - Fire Safety Standards for Vacation Home Establishments
ARSD 44:02:02 - Hotels
ARSD 44:02:14 - Campgrounds
ARSD 44:02:05 - Specialty Resorts
ARSD 44:02:06 - Bed & Breakfast Establishments
ARSD 44:02:08 - Vacation Homes

What are critical and non-critical violations?

Non-critical violations are primarily maintenance and sanitation issues that contribute to the overall safety of a facility but are not likely to result in illness.

Critical violations are operational practices that can lead to illness or injury, for example storing food at unsafe temperatures.  

What happens when an establishment gets a low score? What is a low score?

Generally, a score below 80 or four or more critical violations may trigger a re-inspection in 60 days to make sure all identified violations have been corrected. If violations present a serious and imminent health hazard, the department can suspend the license immediately. Whenever possible, violations found during an inspection are corrected immediately, particularly those of a critical nature.

While an inspection score is useful information it is also important to look at whether violations cited are critical or non-critical. An individual score is only a snapshot of the establishment’s operation on the day of the inspection – looking at scores over time gives a more meaningful measure of an ongoing operation.

During the last licensure year in South Dakota:

  • 95% of 4100+ licensed food services scored 85 or higher. Scores ranged from a low of 61 to a high of 100.
  • 98% of 1400+ licensed lodging establishments scored 90 or higher. Scores ranged from a low of 68 to a high of 100.

How do I file a complaint about a licensed establishment?

Call the Office of Health Protection at 605-773-4945, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. OR use the online complaint form. While the information will be kept confidential, you will need to provide:

  • nature of complaint*
  • whether the complaint involves illness
  • location of complaint (name, address, city and phone)
  • your name, address, city and phone number

*NOTE: If the complaint involves a foodborne illness, be prepared to provide disease specific information to the department's Office of Disease Prevention.

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