Sunday, August 21, 2011


Would you eat a two-week-old sandwich?

A two-week-old sandwich doesn’t seem like a very yummy concept. Stale slightly cardboard-y bread with a hint of mold and whatever congealed filling that has turned grey, green, and lavender with time. Scrumptious!

A Ten-Year-Old Sandwich from Germany
However, according to food scientists, we’ll soon be able to buy and safely eat sandwiches that remain as fresh on day 14 as the day that they were assembled. The trick, they say, is in the ingredients and a protective atmosphere inside the packaging.

A company named Booker Wholesale is about to start supplying these "forever" sandwiches to convenience stores and corner shops throughout the United Kingdom, bucking the trend by most commercial food producers to emphasise freshness. These sandwiches will come in Chicken Tikka, Ploughman’s (Ham, Cheese, Pickle Relish, for you Yanks), and Tuna-Mayonnaise varieties. They will all be made made with Oatmeal bread, chosen because it lasts a long time. 

Doesn't sound so bad, but how does all this work?

The secret is to suck out all of the oxygen from the packaging and replace it with nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide. All of the fillings are then mixed with a slightly acidic mayonnaise, which acts as a preservative. Lettuce and tomatoes are a no-no as they tend to go soggy and rot at a moments notice.

"The product is as fresh on day fourteen as it is on day one," claimed Ray Boggiano, a food technologist who has spent almost a year developing the sandwich.

"The science is not new," said Mr Boggiano. "It’s all about using a protective atmosphere in the packaging. It’s the same technology that is used in packaged sliced meats. That’s the basis." 

All right, all of this doesn't sound too bad, but what about nutrition? Remember what Mom always said, "Eat your greens."

Dr. Carina Norris, a nutritionist, said that the long shelf life may come at the cost of nutritional value. She said, "People should be packing their sandwiches with as much salad as possible. It is the perfect opportunity to get one of your five-a-day [allotment of fruit and vegetables]. Fresh is always best, you should always aim for the freshest possible ingredients in everything you eat. It may be safe to eat, but nutrients could be lost in the ingredients over those fourteen days."

So, for $2.50, or £1.40, we can still eat cardboard, not get any nutrition, and keep all of the supermarkets in business.

Sounds like progress.....


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