The Bank of England has said it will not withdraw £5 notes from circulation and will press ahead with issuing £10 notes in spite of concerns raised over the presence of animal-derived products in the bills.

The new polymer £5 notes were introduced in September with much fanfare by Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who dipped one into a tray of curry to prove its resilience.

But the Bank came under fire in November after it confirmed that tallow, a product derived from animal fats and widely used in the manufacture of candles and soap, was involved in the production of the notes.

A petition set up in November calling on the Bank to “cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use” on the grounds that it was “unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK” attracted more than 134,000 signatures.

In a statement on Wednesday the Bank said it “recognises the concerns” over the use of tallow in the £5 notes and repeated its statement that it had not been aware of the presence of animal-derived products when it first ordered the notes to be printed.

The BoE said it had “been treating the concerns raised by members of the public with the utmost seriousness” and had spoken to a number of groups to understand their concerns more fully.

“The Bank is continuing to work closely with banknote polymer suppliers to determine what alternatives might be available,” the statement said.

But the Bank said it had concluded that it would still be “appropriate” to keep the £5 polymer note in circulation and to issue the Jane Austen £10 polymer note in September as planned, citing factors including the costs of printing the notes already incurred as well as its responsibility to issue and maintain the supply of high quality and secure banknotes.

It added that it had delayed signing contracts to supply materials for the £20 polymer bank notes, due to be issued by 2020, while it sought further opinions on the matter.

The Bank said it would launch a full consultation on 30 March about the content of polymer substrate to be used in its future banknotes and invited views from the public, with feedback due in the summer on the issue.

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