Rainbow Café owner targeted online in £5 notes row

Joanna Taylor 5 December 2016

The Rainbow Café, a vegetarian café in the centre of Cambridge, has come under fire for refusing to accept the new £5 notes because they contain traces of meat by-products. 

Sharon Meijland, who has run the Rainbow Café for thirty years, has taken a stance against the note because the by-product tallow is used in its production process. 

“Our own customers who are actually in the restaurant in Cambridge have been very favourable,” she said, “but it is people on Facebook — there’s been a good deal of charming comments such as ‘I hope this comes back to bite you in the ass’”. 

More than 125,000 have signed a petition calling on the Bank of England to remove tallow from the new notes, although others have condemned this as an overreaction. 

Meijland said that she spoke to other Rainbow Café staff after signing the petition, and decided that the “only way round” their unease about the new notes was to refuse to handle them altogether. 

The café has been a runner-up in the best ethical restaurant category of the Observer Food Monthly awards for the last five years. 

But Professor David Solomon, who was instrumental in the new notes’s creation, said that the tallow controversy is “absolutely stupid” as there are “trivial amounts of it in there”. 

As well as being robust and difficult to forge, Solomon claims the polymer notes are more hygienic. 

The Bank of England has said that Innovia, which makes the new five pound notes, are “working intensively with its supply chain” towards “potential solutions” to make the new notes vegan-friendly.