What’s in a Sandwich?

John Montagu was born on November 13, 1718.  He is better known as the fourth Earl of Sandwich and the “inventor” of that namesake food item, the sandwich.  Putting food in bread had been around for centuries, but in the 1760s Montagu popularized it enough to get it permanently named after him.

Accounts differ as to why Montagu started eating salted beef between two slices of toast.  One story is that he was a heavy gambler and didn’t want to use utensils while playing cards.  A second story says that the first story was made up by a rival to destroy Montagu’s reputation.  (Montagu was known for his scandalous behavior.  He was satirized in the play The Beggar’s Opera as the character of Jimmy Twitcher.)  According to the second story, Montagu merely worked long hours and often missed dinner.

In 2006, a U.S. court had to issue a legal definition of a “sandwich.”  In Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, the Panera Bread Co. had a non-compete clause forbidding any other sandwich maker from opening in its shopping center.  When Qdoba Mexican Grill moved in, Panera sued over its rival’s burritos.

Panera claimed that a flour tortilla qualifies as bread, and a food product with bread and a filling (such as a burrito) qualifies as a sandwich.  In an eight-page ruling, the judge declared that a burrito only has one tortilla, while a sandwich requires two pieces of bread.  “This court finds that the term ‘sandwich’ is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas,” the judge wrote.

Today, Agilent is a world leader in technology solutions that ensure food quality and food safety.  Researchers have used our tools in studies related to sandwiches.

In two studies, scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the University of Maryland examined the paper that sandwiches are often wrapped in.  They found that perfluorochemicals in food packaging can often migrate into the food itself, causing oral exposure to these chemicals.  Emulsifiers used in food oils can increase this migration, and they urged food producers to exercise caution.

The scientists used an Agilent HPLC, LC/MSD, autosampler, diode array detector and columns in their research.


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