One of our favorite local artisan food producers, Knight Salumi, had to close its doors earlier this year. Was it because their product was lackluster, their competition too difficult to overcome, their market uninterested? Nope, nah, and finally... not a chance. The culprit was a broken drain and a clerical error in paperwork.
As reported by Edible San Diego, Knight found itself haulting all pre-holiday season production at it's Kearny Mesa facility to fix a broken drain pipe as required by the USDA. Without knowing the details, let's give the benefit of the doubt to the USDA on that one – facilities should be in tip-top shape to ensure healthy conditions.
Knight was able to utilize a client's facility in Illinois to help fill in during the drain repair, and production commenced. But just when they thought they'd dodged a bullet, the USDA confiscated a 6,000 pound order, all because of a missing signature. Even after Knight had the product tested for safety, the USDA would not release it. The loss of that order was too much financial burden to bear, causing Knight to close.
Again, the USDA has protocol for a reason, and of course that HACCP form should have been filled out correctly. But the real question here is, can't there be room for a human to determine when a clerical error can be remedied in order to avoid the potential closing of an otherwise thriving small business?
Knight Salumi is not alone in facing sometimes questionably strict food health regulations. It's apparently become extremely difficult for restaurants to operate legitimate charcuterie programs – in New York City of all places!
While we're sad to see Knight Salumi go, we have hope for great things from charcuterie producers across America. Perhaps these challenges will only propel this renaissance into a fervor!
Photo by IndirectHeat