As he glanced into the rooms, the owner barked, “There’s nothing in there! You don’t need to look in there!”
Maybe some people in some industries can get away with working while they’re half asleep, but that’s not a luxury a mashgiach kashrus can afford! A good mashgiach has to have sharp eyes and an alert mind, and he also needs to be able to follow his instincts.
We once arrived at a bread factory bright and early, ready for our mehadrin baguette run. The machinery was kashered, the ingredients were vetted, and we were ready to go. The owner was making us a little nervous, though. He kept telling us we need to work quickly because he had to produce another run after ours. We assured him that we would, and we reviewed the ingredients again to make sure that only mehadrin dough conditioners and other kosher products were going into this batch. Then we did hafrashas challah, and finally, it was time to start.
When baking bread, a Yid (usually the mashgiach) has to be the one to turn the ovens on, to ensure pas Yisrael, so the owner irritably called the mashgiach to turn the ovens on. The mashgiach made his way toward the ovens, and on the way, he passed the freezer rooms. As he glanced into the rooms, the owner barked, “There’s nothing in there! You don’t need to look in there!” The owner glared at him fiercely. I exchanged a look with my co-mashigach and I gave him a slight nod with my head. We gotta check that out. Our inner alarm bells were blaring.
Ignoring the owner, the mashgiach entered the freezer room… and discovered our entire run, baked, packaged, and ready for shipping, complete with the stickers labeled with our hashgachah. The problem was that we hadn’t even started our run yet… we were just about to turn the ovens on — and we hadn’t done a previous run. Uh oh.
It turned out that the owner of the factory was literally just playing a game. “Sure, come look at the ingredients… You want to turn on the oven, sure… no problem.” But really, he was as crooked as they come. He’d prepared a truckload of baguettes under no supervision and labeled them with our hashgachah.
I don’t know how he’d planned to get away with that one, but I’m sure glad he didn’t. And of course, he lost his opportunity to work with us.
Another time, a mashgiach I know was traveling to China to supervise a Pesach product. In general, Pesach production is more complicated than chometz production. Plus, Chinese factories are more complicated to supervise than US factories. And one of the chumras the supervising Rebbe wanted in this case was for the mashgiach to be the one to shell the nuts. It was important to him; it was the way the Rebbe did it himself, at home, and he felt that a food that would bear his hashgachah should be done the way he would do it at home. It was so important that it was stipulated clearly in the contract.
But when the mashgiach arrived at the Chinese factory, he found all the nuts already shelled and waiting. Of course, he called the Rebbe. The instructions were clear: Turn around and go home. You cannot work with people who are trying to be tricky and clever and get out of something written clearly in the contract.
You simply cannot trust people like that.
Baguettes are a serious business, especially in France! There’s even a law (The Bread Decree, 1993) that protects this very special bread (for example, it prohibits freezing baguettes or adding ingredients besides flour, water, yeast and salt!).
There are dozens of types of nuts people can eat and enjoy, and many of them have lots of health benefits! But there are also nuts that are inedible and even poisonous, so never eat a random nut without checking with an adult. (And remember that nuts are a choking hazard for children under 5!)
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 882)
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