Bank of England stands firm on 'animal fat' fivers

15 February 2017
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The Bank of England has confirmed it will continue to supply £5 notes containing animal products, despite criticism from vegetarians and vegans.

The new polymer £5 banknotes were introduced in September 2016, replacing the previous paper notes.

However, it later emerged that small traces of animal fat – known as tallow – are used in production process. This led to criticism from vegetarians and vegans with some demanding that the notes be replaced.  

But the UK’s central bank has now confirmed that it will not withdraw the £5 note, and it will also press forward with the rollout of the new £10 Jane Austen banknote planned for September, which will be produced in the same way.

The Bank of England says it has consulted with a number of groups but decided against a withdrawal, with costs cited as a concern. In a statement it says the rollout of the £5 banknote has already cost £46 million and production of the £10 note – which began last August - has cost £24 million so far.

However, the Bank of England says it will look at ways to produce the new £20 note without the use of animal products. This note is not due to come into circulation until 2020 and production has yet to begin.

A statement says: “The Bank has now concluded that it would be appropriate to keep the £5 polymer note in circulation and to issue the £10 polymer note as planned, in September.

“In reaching its decision, the Bank has given careful consideration to the possible alternative options for the current £5 note and the Jane Austen £10 polymer note.”

Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, says: “While it is unfortunate that the new £10 note will contain tallow, The Vegan Society is pleased that the Bank of England has been transparent in their response to this important issue, and has taken the beliefs of the public into consideration.

"We have met with the Bank of England and believe they are committed to solving this problem and we will continue to work with them to find a good solution."

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