IT is always a pleasure to read reports that support our collective investment in the scientific community.

As taxpayers, we underwrite millions of pounds, euros and dollars to get precocious individuals through primary and secondary school followed by seemingly endless years at university until they graduate with a PhD in something that none of us understand.

And what do we get in return? The latest story to cross my desk suggests scientists have discovered how to stop sandwiches from going stale.

So, the result of squillions invested is a sandwich that will stay “fresh” for the next one hundred years.

That’s it! Start school aged five, big school at 11, university at 18, graduate with a doctorate in something or other aged 26.

Twenty-one years of education and they come up with a sandwich that doesn’t turn blue.

The un-stale sandwich has now been invented and will fairly soon appear in a railway buffet car near you.

What intrigued me is that the compound that stops food from deteriorating naturally is called bisin.

The more scientifically astute reader will appreciate its chemical relationship to nicin which has been used to sterilise processed cheese for many a decade.

Sterilised cheese I can cope with but I’m not sure about eating year-old sandwiches with or without the addition of bisin.

However, it does remind me of a very old joke.

Q: What’s the difference between a buffalo and a bison?

A: You can’t wash your hands in a buffalo.

Bicin or bison, I wash my hands of both.

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