British vegans have petitioned the Bank of England to remove tallow from its banknotes after the bank admitted its new plastic 5-pound (6.2-dollar) notes contain traces of the animal fat.

"We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use," read an online petition that had been approved by more than 90,000 people as of Wednesday on the change.org website.

The use of tallow in the new banknotes - commonly known as fivers - is "unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK," the petition reads.

Answering a question on Twitter on Monday, the bank said there was "a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer 5-pound notes."

Innovia Films, the company which prints the polymer banknotes, said in a statement on Wednesday that resins used to make them contain less than 1 per cent of additives that are "commonly used across the plastics industry" and include "tiny traces" of tallow.

The Bank of England began issuing the plastic 5-pound notes featuring British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill in September, saying they offer better security and are strong enough to survive a spin in a washing machine.

The bank said it plans to issue similar plastic 10-pound notes in mid-2017 and 20-pound notes by 2020.

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