United Kingdom's central bank, The Bank of England, has revealed that their new five-pound note contains traces of beef tallow, a rendered form of meat or mutton fat that solidifies at room temperature.
An online petition calling for tallow to be removed from the banknote’s manufacturing process has garnered over 15,000 signatures since the news was made public earlier this week.
"This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the U.K.," reads the petition’s statement.
The announcement has sparked outrage amongst Hindus, Sikh, Jains and other religious minorities in the UK. Cows are believed to be holy in these religions; the slaughter and meat of cattle is therefore sacrilegious.
The BBC reports that "some British Hindu leaders said they would discuss a possible ban on new five pound notes from temples". Temples have donation boxes and offer banknotes as offerings to deities.
The new banknote was first circulated in British currency in September this year. Unlike other pound notes, typically made of paper, the new five-pounder is constructed from a polymer base, making it much more durable than other forms of British cash currency.
The manufacturing process behind the note requires fat, and like most traditional staples like candles and soaps, this fat is obtained from animal beef, pork, and mutton tallow.
The polymer base used to mint these five-pound notes is provided by Innovia Films, which claims to use tallow to make their products more “anti-static”.
A spokeswoman at Innovia Films, Patricia Potts tells CNN she was only recently made aware of the tallow content in their polymer products. She says the company has a policy to never "knowingly add any animal ingredients into [their] products."
She did add, "[The company] are looking to eliminate that, but obviously that will take time. It's a very difficult process."
The Reserve Bank of Australia has told SBS some Australian note currency also contains tallow.