Cambridge Rainbow vegetarian cafe refuses new £5 note

Rainbow Cafe Image copyright Google
Image caption The cafe owners are refusing to accept the new £5 note on ethical grounds as it contains an animal by-product

A vegetarian cafe is refusing to accept the new £5 note after it emerged the currency contains animal products.

Sharon Meijland, owner of the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge, has put up signs warning customers about the policy.

There was outcry from some vegetarians and religious groups when it was revealed the polymer used for the notes contains tallow - a type of animal fat.

The Bank of England declined to say whether there was a legal obligation to accept the notes.


Mrs Meijland said she had made a "promise" to customers that the cafe was an "ethical establishment".

"[Tallow's] an animal product isn't it? Our whole business is based around not having anything like that on the premises," Mrs Meijland said.

"Although the same person doesn't handle the money that handles the food, that's not really the point."

Image copyright Rainbow Vegetarian Cafe
Image caption Posters have been put at the cafe entrance and at the cash till

She said she was "mystified" by the meat content in the currency, and added: "This is so repulsive... we are actually going to have to say that we can't take the notes in our restaurant."

Since the posters went up on Wednesday no customers had complained, she said.

Mrs Meijland said the majority of customers paid by card but if they only had a new £5 note staff would "try to find an alternative and accommodate them in some way".

Image caption One of the signs has been put on the stairs so customers will see it as they arrive

Since the "bendy" notes were introduced into circulation by the Bank of England in September, a petition calling for the tallow to be removed, gained more than 120,000 signatures within a few days of posting.

The bank has said its supplier was working on "potential solutions" to the issue of animal fat in its new £5 notes.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The new notes were introduced into circulation in September

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