The Bank of England confirmed the reports, but don’t know how the animal product got there.
In an effort to keep up with savvy counterfeiters, the British government may have just run afoul of very unexpected subsets of citizens – vegans and animal rights activists. The Bank of England, the central bank for the United Kingdom, recently released an updated iteration of its £5 note, and along with it came the revelation that each note contains trace amounts of animal products. Specifically, the polymer used in the manufacturing of the note contains tallow, a form of rendered animal fat, most often from cows.
The Bank of England responded to a users question on Twitter, confirming the inclusion of tallow in the new notes:
@SteffiRox there is a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes— Bank of England (@Bank of England)1480350287.0
Vegans, animal rights activists, and those bound by pertinent religious guidelines (Sikhs, Hindus, and Jains, predominately) have taken to Twitter and supported online petitions to change the practice.
@bankofengland what consideration was given to #vegans & their human rights in the making of these? #fivepoundnote #fatfivers— Steffi Rox (@Steffi Rox)1480409431.0
@bankofengland @SteffiRox Any plans to stop this?— Aberystwyth Greens (@Aberystwyth Greens)1480369912.0
@bankofengland That's pretty shitty of you guys. Canadian plastic cash ain't got Tallow so I dont see why you guys DO?!— Liam Atk🏳️🌈 (@Liam Atk🏳️🌈)1480410144.0
One Twitter user suggested they would refuse to accept the notes, which may not be a technically legal remedy, but reflects the anger surrounding this news:
Naturally, their response has generated a response to them, calling for an end to political correctness and even the befuddling hashtag #toomanyrights, which is a strange thing for a person of any stripe to complain about:
Somewhat surprisingly, British notes aren’t the only ones in the world that contain tallow. Very surprisingly, the United States is not among the other countries whose do. Canada and Australia are among 23 other countries that also include tallow in their notes.
Complicating the matter, a representative for Innovia Films, the company that provides the polymer in question to the countries, claims that they would never "knowingly add any animal ingredients into our products."
The adoption of polymers in the manufacturing of currency is a relatively new practice, and it’s so far unclear what steps, if any, the offending governments and banks will take to end the practice of including animal products in their currency.