Arrivederci to Il Mondo Vecchio

Denver salumeria, painted into a bureaucratic corner, to close

Mark De Nittis

I favor some government agencies. FEMA — now that “Brownie” is long gone–  responded quickly in the wake of a horrific storm.  The National Guard stands at the ready in case of emergency. The Federal Aviation Administration whose air traffic controllers keep planes sale in the skies are examples. Others sometimes need to be reined in — the Transportation Security Administration for one. The Food & Drug Administration for another. Its overzealous obsession for “protecting” the eating public has deprived us of unpasteurized milk (unless we have a share in a producing cow) and so on. Among the so-on’s are traditional, artisinal sausages and cured meat.

But rather than whining about generalities, I’ll sorrowfully share a report by Lori Midson from Westword’s “Cafe Society” that Il Mondo Vecchio, a revered Old World-style salumeria in Denver, is shutting down at the end of the month. Founder/partner Mark De Nittis said that the little plant never had any violations since it was established in 2008, the USDA’s ultimatum was either to add nitrates, nitrites or other preservative to their exemplary dry-aged meat products or pay for extensive and expensive testing for pathogens. This was unsustainable for Il Mondo Vecchio and unconscionable by the USDA. The losers, of course, are local foodies.

Here’s the way Il Mondo Vecchio’s own website describes itself:

“Our production plant is USDA, FSIS inspected.  An inspector is onsite everyday, we are in operation. Our facility has a fully implemented Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, along with Standard Sanitation Operation Procedures (SSOP), which detail the cleaning, sanitation, and monitoring of all the equipment and the interior/exterior of our facility. Our facility has a complete Food Safety/Quality Assurance program in place.  We perform numerous food safety audits on a daily basis.  Daily operations do not start until a complete pre-operational inspection of all facilities and equipment has been completed. We perform numerous Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to further ensure food safety. Our facility conducts ongoing Food Safety training, stressing Good Manufacturing Procedures as well cleaning and sanitation practices. We have an intense microbiological testing program in place on product contact surfaces, non-product surfaces, facility environments, as well finished products to ensure wholesome environments and food products for consumer safety. We maintain an allergen control plan and all labels are approved by USDA.”

Future plans include “meat-centric” culinary classes — and perhaps (and this is only my conjecture) some as yet unannounced project with his fiancée, super-chef Jenna Johansen. Stay tuned.

6 thoughts on “Arrivederci to Il Mondo Vecchio”

  1. What a shock and a tragedy. Mark has been curing the meat from my CSA farm for years, turning heritage breed pigs into addictive delicacies such as Lardo. I met him live this summer and watched a vibrant demo of him breaking down an entire lamb. This seems so sudden and a huge loss.

  2. The USDA is so very fearful of pathogens but there is far less reluctance to prohibit chemicals of various kinds in our meats, poultry and produce. And GMOs. Food from a chemistry experiment, I’d say. At the same time, more restaurants and delis have begun to smoke and cure their own meats, makes sausages and so on. I wonder whether the agency will slam the window of opportunity on their fingers too — or whether for some reason the agency has singled out IMV and Il Pastor. After all, Continental Sausage (natural, mostly German-style items) has been in Denver since 1969, and Polidori (Italian) has been around since the 1920s. Maybe others too.

  3. In Colorado they legalized pot last night (sort of), but now you can’t assuage the munchies with sausage?
    Once marijuana is fully legalized, the same thing will happen to it. Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, and Big Retail will totally control it and “weed” out (pun intended) the little guy/gal.

  4. and the feds sit back and wonder why the unemployment rate sits at 8/9% and shows no signs of moving down. this is one small regulatory action from one federal agency that resulted in 140 lost jobs. imagine the damage from large FDA actions? on top of all that, the people currently in office, and those who put them there act as if we hardly have regulation as it stands, more is the answer to all our problems. more of their one size fits all, round peg in a square hole rules. more lost jobs.

    regulations rarely effect or hurt the corporations they are intended to target. they have the means to pay the fines, or fight the rulings, or bribe the officials, or change their production methods. the same can not be said for the small and medium sized businesses out there, that employ HALF of all private sector workers. not only are the majority of ‘regulations’ ridiculous with regards to a small business, they are a huge drain on those businesses, costing untold man hours and money. and it has two effects. it either stagnates any chance of growth for a small/medium business. or runs them out of business, taking all the jobs it created with it.

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