For charcuterie fans, life is about to get much more tasty. The US Department of Agriculture recently announced that the agency will relax a ban on Italian cured-meat products from some regions in Italy starting May 28. What that means for chefs and eaters? Cured pork products from small producers in Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, the Veneto, Piedmont, Trento and Bolzano could soon be available in the U.S.
The ban has been in place in some form or another since the 1960s, due to concerns about livestock illnesses, particularly swine vesicular disease, which is fairly heat resistant and can apparently survive a significant length of time in salted, dried and/or smoked meat products.
The USDA lifted the complete ban on Italian raw, cured meat products in 1989, when prosciuttos from Parma and San Daniele were allowed back into the United States after absence on American shores of 2 decades. And hams and salamis from producers large enough to carry the expense of full-time, onsite USDA inspectors have generally been cleared for import into the U.S. in the intervening years. But that practice has left out the small artisanal producers and as a result some really great charcuterie has never been allowed into the country. But since the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has determined that the above listed regions and provinces are swine vesicular disease free, the gates are open for lardo, culatello, bresaola, and coppa. Mangia!