The Bank of England has confirmed that the new polymer £5 notes contain traces of animal fat, sparking outrage among vegans and vegetarians and triggering a petition that has already received nearly 100,000 signatures.
In September, three years after a public consultation, the new polymer £5 note was entered into circulation. The new fiver, which features Winston Churchill on the back (although not everyone can tell who the luminaries on the back are) is made from polymer, a thin, flexible plastic material. Polymer is resistant to dirt and moisture, and lasts around 2.5 times longer than paper.
The Bank of England emphasised the resistance, flexibility and durability of the new note, as well as the more advanced anti-counterfeit measures. However, all of those things now appear to be taking a back seat to another feature of the new note: animal fat.
When asked on Twitter whether the new £5 note has traces of tallow in it, BoE confirmed that it did.
Hi @Jools_Orca there is a trace of tallow in the polymer pallets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes
— Bank of England (@bankofengland) November 28, 2016
“There is a trace of tallow in the polymer pallets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes,” the bank replied to the question.
Tallow is the fatty substance made from animal fat and typically used in the making of candles and soap.
This has unsurprisingly sparked anger among the vegans and vegetarians. The person who originally asked the question Twitter, followed up by saying, “Thankyou [sic] for the reply and it’s a shock to learn this – vegetarians and vegans in particular with animal fat in their wallets.”
@bankofengland Thankyou for the reply and it's a shock to learn this – vegetarians and vegans in particular with animal fat in their wallets
— Jools (@Jools_Orca) November 28, 2016
A petition seeking to get the BoE to remove the substance from the notes has been started on change.org. It has already received just nearly 100,000 signatures.
“The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the U.K.
“We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use,” it says on the petition.
However, not everyone was surprised or offended by this news.
New fivers aren't vegan. pic.twitter.com/MiTRXxkdTO
— Paddy (@Pads45N) November 28, 2016
UPDATE: The Bank of England has responded to the concerns by issuing the following statement.
We are aware of some people’s concerns about traces of tallow in our new five pound note. We respect those concerns and are treating them with the utmost seriousness.This issue has only just come to light, and the Bank did not know about it when the contract was signed.
Information recently provided by our supplier, Innovia, and its supply chain shows that an extremely small amount of tallow is used in an early stage of the production process of polymer pellets, which are then used to create the base substrate for the five pound note.
Innovia is now working intensively with its supply chain and will keep the Bank informed on progress towards potential solutions.
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