While competition rages over who will get to be on the back of the new £50 note, one thing we can now say for certain is that it will be made with animal fat.
The Bank of England said after “careful consideration” the new polymer note will contain tallow – a substance generally made from dead sheep or cows.
It’s the same substance that caused controversy when it was revealed the new plastic fivers and tenners have it – although the bank was keen to point out it accounts for just 0.05% of the note.
“Within this process and after careful consideration, the Bank has decided that the composition of the polymer for the next £50 will be the same as for the current £5, £10 and £20,” the Bank said in a statement.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney announced at the Science Museum in London that the new polymer note will celebrate UK achievement in science.
And that meant a scientist on the back.
After a public vote resulted in with more than 200,000 nominations, the Bank cut this down based on eligibility. The winning candidate had to be real, made a contribution to science and dead.
Focus groups are used to filter out people who could cause concern and decide who resonates strongly with people.
The committee then produces a shortlist, based on the focus group feedback and research about the characters and the Bank governor makes a final decision.
The Bank said it will announce who will be on the note this summer.
The Bank spent months investigating alternatives when planing for the new £20 note coming out next year, speaking to manufacturers, the public and the Treasury – as the taxpayer ultimately funds the notes.
It found that while 88% of people were against animal fat, 48% were against palm oil and 31% were against both.
“The only currently viable alternative additives for polymer banknotes are chemicals derived from palm oil,” the Bank said announcing it’s decision to stick with meat.
Then there was the cost – it would mean an extra £16.5 million being spent to move to palm oil.
So despite the fact an astonishing 88% of people were against meat-based notes, the bank decided it was sticking with tallow – its current animal base.
HM Treasury advised the Bank that it does not believe switching to palm oil derivatives would achieve value for money for taxpayers,” the Bank said in a statement.
Finally, the Bank discovered that animal fat is already there in everything from debit and credit cards, to phones to carrier bags.
“The Bank has not taken this decision lightly,” the official decision document reads.
“In making this decision, the Bank has carefully considered a number of complex issues and taken into consideration all of its objectives, including its responsibility to maintain confidence in the currency, achieving value for money for taxpayers and its responsibilities under the Equality Act.”