Paper Money

Secret ingredient in England's new note sparks uproar

England’s polymer £5 note continues to make news, most of it controversial. Now there is something not kosher about it, too.

Image courtesy of Bank of England.

England’s polymer £5 note continues to make news, most of it, controversial. Now there is something not kosher about it, too. And it has so horrified vegans, veget­arians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Orthodox Jews, among others, that 130,000 peo­ple have signed a petition demanding the Bank of England do something about it.

It turns out that the note has a secret ingredient — tallow, or animal fat. The Bank of England admitted as much via Twitter on Nov. 28 and an outpouring of rage ensued on both ethical and religious grounds. A vegetarian cafe in Cambridge is refusing to accept them and some Hindus and Sikks are calling for them to be banned from temples, where meat products are forbidden. Many Hindus, who will not wear leather shoes or carry leather purses, apply the same rationale to the note.

Connect with Coin World:  

Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

The bank maintains it only recently became aware of the issue, and along with its supplier, says it is taking the problem seriously and working on a solution. The polymer is provided by English company Innovia Security, which supplies the polymer substrate for 24 countries. 

An Innovia spokes­person admitted to “minute” trace amounts of tallow in the pellets used to form the base of the substrate. She said a supplier used tallow for its anti-static properties and that the firm would never “knowingly” use animal by-products. She said that fixing the problem was difficult and that she did not know if the same situation applied to other Innovia customers, although its presence has been confirmed in Canada and Australia, where protests are also starting. No mention was made of the added costs of a substitute, which would probably be plant-based.

The Bank of England’s statement 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.”

Community Comments