(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
In a recent post, we spoke with Rabbi Shmuli Rabinowitz, a supervisor with one of Australia’s leading kosher certification authorities. The feedback we received from his insights into the Jewish perspective on traceability in the food and beverage industry was so positive we thought we would get back in touch with him to delve a little bit deeper.
While on the slighter side, Rabbi Rabinowitz appears somewhat stern as he gazes over his glasses, the black fedora frequented by many orthodox Jews perched ever so slightly askew on his head. Any pretence at austerity dissipated the moment he began speaking with us in his gentle, smiling voice, the discussion peppered with appalling dad jokes and some of the most genuinely horrific puns you’re ever likely to hear. We’ve edited out the corny attempted humour to give you the following fascinating interview:
ESA: In our last discussion, you discussed how important food traceability is to kosher certification. Have you encountered situations where a company having an ERP solution helped with that?
RR: Absolutely. In fact, I can take it one step further: Before we inspect a factory or a company, we send them a preliminary questionnaire ascertaining whether they are running an ERP is one of the first and most important questions on our list.
ESA: Why is that?
RR: Put simply, it makes our job infinitely easier. When I visit a food and beverage company that is running an ERP system such as MYOB Greentree, I have an enormous amount of information I can access in an instant. We leave absolutely nothing to chance, so I need to be able to trace the origin of every single ingredient in any product that is going for certification. In some cases, this can be incredibly challenging as the manufacturer may be procuring or importing ingredients that are processed by another supplier anywhere in the world. In some cases, we are required to trace one input back through four or five suppliers until we understand the origin of every single ingredient.
ESA: Can you give us an example of such a case.
RR: Well, we recently had a particularly tricky job, whose story ended up in Sudan. ESA: You travelled to Sudan? RB: Well, not exactly. But the story did finish there. As anyone in the food and beverage industry knows, flavourings are a critical part of most products, and these are almost always sourced externally. We were called upon to audit a certain company using flavours obtained from a local supplier. I visited the supplier and accessed their ERP system to retrieve information about a spray-dried acacia gum used in many of their products. The ERP showed that this gum was sourced from a company in Germany. This required me to contact the company in Germany to determine whether the acacia gum had acceptable kosher certification. As it turned out, there are two kosher authorities in Germany. One of them approved the acacia gum, but the other did not. This raises a red flag for us, so I had to contact both Kosher authorities to inquire why they did or did not approve that ingredient. In particular, we needed to understand whether the gum came from one place and was spray dried in another, or whether it was all processed in the same plant. That would assist us to determine where the potential issue could lie. ESA: What did you find out? EB: So, it turns out that the German company does not actually manufacture the acacia gum. They import the acacia gum from Sudan.
ESA: I see. So what was the issue?
RR: With no robust information to work with, one authority assumed that as it was a dedicated plant, the gum would be fine. The other decided that they could not make that call and rejected it.
ESA: Wow, that certainly is fascinating. So how did the Australian company’s ERP system help with that?
RR: The company in question has numerous products with literally thousands of ingredients. I physically cannot minutely check every single one of them. Rather, we approach it from a systems perspective. In such cases, the first thing I do is go into the company’s ERP and test out their systems to see that everything is working as it should. I put the ERP through its paces, and if it is working well, I should have all the information I need. I can then select a number of ingredients either at random, or that from experience can be a bit more tricky. If these pass, then I can make a strong assumption that other ingredients will also be fine as they are all subject to the same system.
ESA: So in this case, the ERP has, in fact, played a critical role in simplifying a very complex situation.
RR: Exactly right. In this case, it genuinely got us out of a sticky situation* The modern food supply chain has become so incredibly complex, global and intertwined that without an ERP in place, there are times when we simply could not do our job. Alternatively, it might be doable, but would take us exponentially longer and cost us and the client significantly more. We all breathe a huge collective sigh of relief in the office when we find that the prospective company is running a solid ERP.
ESA: Thanks so much for your time, Rabbi Rabinowitz. It’s been enlightening. I hope we can tap your brain again in future.
RR: Any time.
To discuss the advantages of an ERP system or a Business Intelligence dashboard for quick visibility in your Food and Beverage business please contact the Endeavour Solutions team on 1300 583 097
* Apparently one corny pun made it through. Our sincere apologies