An open letter to Mark DeNittis: Why is Il Mondo Vecchio closing?
4) Salt Volumes
" Il Mondo Vecchio's website also boasts that it hand crafts salumi from "age old family recipes." Its products are all natural, "minimally processed, and contain  no artificial ingredients." Il Mondo Vecchio even cares about its salt--obtaining "ancient sea salt from Utah (just west over the Rocky Mountains)" and using "the lowest allowable salt content of today's producers nationally. "
There is mention in the interviews in contention of the volume of salt required by the USDA. Salt volumes are dictated, as a default, by the USDA, however as stated above, you can absolutely provide them with studies to prove your methods are sound and fundamentally safe against the requirements by USDA regulations. It's scientifically proven that a minimum of 2% salt is required to produce a safe product. In most of my curing projects, I use anywhere from 2.5 - 3.5%, depending on meat flavor, length of cure, etc. It's calculated as a percentage so that the product absorbs the exact amount of salt used, creating a product that is safe and able to be eaten without it tasting like a salt lick. This is known as equilibrium curing.
In my experience and reading about "Old World Methods", weighing the ingredients against the starting product is a rarity, with more common practice being instructions such as - " as much salt as the meat will hold " given as directions. Given the proper methods and pH records, why would the amount of salt suddenly become an issue? What percentage of salt were you using?
I think what frustrates me on a whole is that you entered this world with years of meat cutting experience, you knew the wacky world that is USDA regulations and - while it's no secret they are set up to address large scale production programs - not only have they been who they are well before you opened, frankly, they have improved in process acceptance since then. How can you enter the game knowing the rules, but then complain of the rules after the fact?
5) Being forced to close the doors
There is a nuance in language that I think you need to address. You often frame the closing of your business in the press and to customers in language that suggests your act was heroic i.e. you were throwing your company on the proverbial sword. You continually say in the emails you've sent and within the articles, that the USDA forced you to close your doors despite having options to the contrary.
" After two months of sharing information and collaboration back and forth between Il Mondo Vecchio and the USDA as well as various attempts to modify the production methods, Il Mondo Vecchio has determined that the impact of the regulatory requirements on dry cured sausage products was detrimental to the quality of the product and therefore, Mark and Gennaro are forced to close the doors. "
It's a small detail, certainly, but it is important, as you did have options. With such strong words and opinions against the USDA, are you concerned at all about the spotlight you're putting yourself and your future endeavors under? It seems that publicly bashing the USDA would work against your favor, no?
My hope that as an educator you take the opportunity and spotlight you have not to say "woe is me", but rather to educate the consumers and prospective producers alike about what it takes to work with the USDA, transparency in your methods and the details in proof you have to support your methods and decisions. We have some of the most food-aware people in the country in this area of Colorado, many with very incorrect information; I'd hate to see that continue with the closing of a beloved shop.