The Bank of England has said its supplier is working on “potential solutions” after more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling on them to remove a derivative of animal fat from their new polymer bank notes.
It came to light this week that the new note contains tallow, a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, sometimes used in the production of items including soap and candles.
The revelation left many vegans and vegetarians horrified and also prompted concern among faith groups who have rules against consuming or using beef in manufacturing processes.
But now the Bank of England has said its supplier was now “working intensively” to find a possible solution to the issue, adding that the issues “has only just come to light”.
A statement from the Bank said: “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.”
On Wednesday, Trupti Patel from the Hindu Forum of Britain, told the BBC: “Using a non-vegetarian source is totally and utterly unacceptable.
“In this country we spend so much time and effort on interfaith matters, so much time and effort on being sensitive to each other’s needs and then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, without any consultation, these notes come out with traces of non-vegetarian material.
“Now you would think that’s okay, there are Hindus who are vegetarians and non-vegetarians, what is the difference? Well in this day and age, if we think about it, it is possible to create everything artificially, even diamonds are created artificially, so I can’t see any need for creating a £5 note with non-vegetarian material.”
The BBC also reported that some British Hindu leaders said they would be discussing a possible ban on the notes from temples.
The Evening Standard reported on Wednesday that the new £10 notes, which will come into circulation next year, will also contain tallow, since the Bank of England is under contract to use the same supplier.
At the time of writing, the petition on
The Vegan Society said: “Tallow is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, processed from suet. It doesn’t need be used in the notes at all as there are many plant-based alternatives. Using animals in this way is outdated and unnecessary, not to mention the fact that it is obviously cruel.
“While vegans will be unable to opt out of using these notes, we hope that the Bank of England and their supplier take this seriously and use alternative, vegan-friendly sources for all future notes.”
The Bank of England said that they have provided the following explanation to any members of the public who asked about the inclusion of tallow:
“We can confirm that the polymer pellet from which the base substrate is made contains a trace of a substance known as tallow.
“Tallow is derived from animal fats (suet) and is a substance that is also widely used in the manufacture of candles and soap.”
The new note is said by the Bank to be cleaner, safer and stronger than paper notes, lasting around five years longer.
Governor Mark Carney said of the new note: “The use of polymer means it can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up inside pockets and can also survive a spin in the washing machine.
“We expect polymer notes to last at least two and-a-half times longer than the current generation of fivers and therefore reduce future costs of production.”