Notes that contain traces of animal fat will continue to be produced by the Bank of England, despite criticism from activists.

Following a public consultation, the Bank said the new £20 note and future print runs of £5 and £10 notes will continue to be made from polymer, "manufactured using trace amounts of chemicals, typically less than 0.05%, ultimately derived from animal products".

The Bank made the decision despite 88% of respondents being against the use of animal-derived additives.

The move is likely to enrage animal rights activists such as PETA and the National Council of Hindu Temples, which have expressed their outrage at the use of tallow in new bank notes.

In a statement, the Bank said: "After careful and serious consideration and extensive public consultation there will be no change to the composition of polymer used for future banknotes.

"This decision reflects multiple considerations including the concerns raised by the public, the availability of environmentally sustainable alternatives, positions of our Central Bank peers, value for money, as well as the widespread use of animal-derived additives in everyday products."

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney (left) buys lunch with the new £5 note. Credit: PA

The Bank said the only viable alternative is palm oil, a switch it said would cost an additional £16.5 million over the next 10 years

It added: "The case for moving to polymer banknotes remains compelling.

"Polymer banknotes deliver significant benefits over paper, particularly when combined with state of the art security features which make the notes much harder to counterfeit.

"Polymer is also stronger than cotton-paper and so notes will last longer, remain in better condition and deliver environmental benefits."

Vegetarians and vegans reacted with fury after it emerged in November that tallow was used in the new £5 notes.

More than 130,000 people signed a petition against the use of tallow to manufacture the £5 notes, which were released in September.