GRAFTON TWP. — Anyone who recently purchased deer meat processed at Ketchem’s Country Meats is probably better off tossing it, according to the Lorain County General Health District.
A complaint about an odor from the property prompted an investigation by both the health district and the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, which found hundreds of deer carcasses improperly discarded on the property, 17333 Avon Belden Road.
The health district also found that the facility did not have water or electricity for refrigeration despite processing deer, according to a news release.
Scott Ponza, the environmental health district supervisor, said the state Environmental Protection Agency also investigated the property but found “no evidence of water seeping into any service water source.”
Though no one has reported any cases of foodborne illness associated with Ketchem’s, Ponza said his recommendation for people who purchased meat is “to just discard it.”
Though it is legal to bury a deer carcass on your own property, Ponza said, there are rules governing how deep underground the animal should be.
Ponza said the deer at Ketchem’s weren’t buried deep enough and “kind of scattered throughout the back property.”
“It was an open burial site where there was no cover and rainwater had mixed in,” Ponza said.
In his 23 years working for the health district, he’s never seen anything like it.
A contractor is working to excavate the deer and fill in the property with new soil. Ponza said the cleanup of the property should be finished this week.
On the public health side of things, Ponza said a notice of violation was issued to Ketchem’s for open dumping but additional charges could be coming from the Sheriff’s Office.
According to the Lorain County auditor, the building owner is Elizabeth Canning of Medina. Canning did not return calls for comment.
Ponza said Ketchem’s is closed for now, and he did not know what the future would hold for the business. A phone number for Ketchem’s appeared to be disconnected.
The health district is asking anyone who may have purchased or received deer meat processed at Ketchem’s during the 2016-17 hunting season to call (440) 322-6367.