Bank of England has issued a new £5 note which contains Animal Tallow. I was wondering if you can explain to me as to how the animal tallow is used in this process. Also would you be able to speculate as to tallow of which animal could potentially be used in this production process?

Does the animal tallow completely transform or are its original characteristics retained?

Bank of England official Press Release is as follows:

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.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It's likely used in the production of some base product of a processing additive, i guess. Likely because it has no big other uses and is therefore cheap . How did some neurotics even find out about it? $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ Animal tallow is used early on in the creation of various plastics. The molecules that make up the tallow are converted to various different compounds. $\endgroup$
    – J. Ari
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


According to the UK news outlet The Sun:

The new polymer note uses beef tallow made from suet, which is hard fat found around the animal’s kidneys, stomach and other organs.
The animal product is used as a source of stearic acid. This allows the note to be lubricated and to ensure it is smooth inside your wallet.

Suet is mainly used to make tallow, though it is also a widely used cooking ingredient.

Stearic acid is a waxy material who's ionic form (stearate salts like sodium stearate) is widely used in detergents. This property gives it the desired smooth, slippery property desired in the manufacture of the polymer notes.


The answer from the B of E is not an answer at all. The animal derivative is more than likely to be a stearate from fat. Long chain fatty acids and their derivatives act as lubricants in the process of making film and make the product easily handleable. The actual substance is likely to be calcium or magnesium stearate at a level of 0.01% to 0.05%.


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