Many vegetarians and vegans go a step beyond choosing not to eat meat. They often avoid other animal products, like leather shoes and jackets, silk ties, wool coats, and in England, money like the five pound note.
The Bank of England has folded to pressure from vegans and vegetarians and will change its new fiver, after it was revealed the note contains trace amounts of animal fat.
“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,” the bank said in a statement released on its website.
The new five pound note was released in September, the first polymer banknote released by the Bank of England. A plastic ten pound note is expected to come out this summer.
The switch led to sturdier currency that is easier to clean, rip-resistant, and lasts more than twice as long as traditional paper notes.
But beyond the issues that might be expected from plastic currency – they can stick together, they can melt at temperatures about 248 Fahrenheit (like in very hot dryer cycles), and folding them can damage the polymer – they were found to have trace amounts of animal fat.
The fat comes from tallow used by Innovia, the company contracted by the Bank of England, in the plastic pellets that are part of the polymer fiver’s production process. Tallow usually comes from cattle and sheep fat leftover from butchering.
After the strange ingredient came to light, the Bank of England began receiving complaints from vegans and vegetarians, and a petition on Change.org has gathered more than 126,000 signatures.
The bank said it didn’t realize tallow was used in the production process when it signed the contract to produce the banknotes.
The bank plans to address the production issue and remove tallow from the process if possible.
“Innovia is now working intensively with its supply chain and will keep the Bank informed on progress towards potential solutions,” the bank said in its statement.