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Detectives, USDA inspector pay a visit to Riteway Meat Co.

Business — Agriculture department began looking into business when it could not get inside for inspection; multiple investigations are continuing


Oregon Department of Agriculture officials say they have been attempting to inspect Dundee’s Riteway Meat Company since December but until recently had been unable to get inside the facility.

“We’ll want to go into that facility as soon as we get an opportunity, to see the condition of any meat that is stored there,” Frank Barcellos, ODA food safety program manager, said Feb. 11. “We want to see if there’s any meat there that can be retrieved and can be given back to the customers.”Photo Credit: GARY ALLEN - Inspected - The Oregon Dept. of Agriculture had been attempting to gain entrance into Riteway Meat Company to inspect for more than two months but was unable to coordinate with the owners, officials said. On Feb. 11 an inspector entered the building and conducted an inspection, but the results are not yet available.

That same day a United States Department of Agriculture inspector visited the site and entered the premises along with Riteway co-owners Jeff and Sharon Payne, said Capt. Jeff Kosmicki of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department.

“I can confirm that NDPD detectives did in fact go out to Riteway Meat Co. with a member of the USDA (United States Dept. of Agriculture),” Kosmicki said. “They met with the owners who were inside the business. At this time I cannot discuss what occurred or much more, as this is still an ongoing investigation.”

At press time there was still no information available on the results of that inspection.

Riteway closed near the beginning of the year, with some customers reporting their orders of meat were still inside the facility. After initially receiving word from co-owner Sharon Payne that Riteway would reopen during the week of Jan. 19 there has been no further response from the owners and the business remains closed.

Customers have reported losing meat that would have been worth thousands of dollars, with one small farm out more than $10,000.

Jason Wright, a former customer, reported the facility has no power and that people were removing equipment from the building in late January. When he observed this he said there was also a smell of rotting meat emanating from the building.

The ODA received complains about Riteway in December and began trying to get hold of the owners, Barcellos said. Issues had surfaced in October, but in December the department realized it was having difficulty setting up an inspection.

An inspector was sent out to the site at 892 Highway 99W and noticed it was in a dilapidated condition, Barcellos said. When inspectors couldn’t get access to the inside of the facility, that’s what caused the department to keep looking.

“Now it’s all been locked up and covered up with butcher paper,” Barcellos said.

The NDPD has been in contact with the ODA and a detective asked for an inspector to go out to the facility and determine whether there was meat inside.

The ODA’s responsibility in inspecting Riteway is based on sanitation as it is the licensing agency for meat processing businesses.

Riteway has a custom meat processor license and a non-slaughtering processor license, both of which are active through June. Custom meat processors are licensed by the ODA and are generally utilized by small farms that do not sell meat in stores, with all the meat processed by a custom processor marked as not for retail sale.

“If they’re out of business we’d want to make sure that they’re not in the business of providing product,” ODA Director of Communications Bruce Pokarney said. “Any of the other issues that might be a part of that incident would be handled by other jurisdictions.”

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