LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England introduced its first plastic banknote on Tuesday, with Governor Mark Carney dipping one of them into a bubbling container of chicken curry to prove its greater durability.
The new five pound notes, which feature World War Two leader Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth, will trickle through to cash machines and banks in England and Wales over the coming weeks.
They are made of a thin and flexible polymer, or plastic, which is cleaner and harder to forge than current cotton-based notes according to the central bank.
At a London street market, Carney tried to prove the point by ordering a chicken wrap at a food stall, then dipping one of the banknotes in a container from which food was being served.
“This is the most severe test we could put it under,” Carney told reporters, before using the note to pay.
The notes are expected to last about five years - around two-and-a-half times as long as their predecessors.
The “new fiver” is the first plastic banknote to go into circulation in England and Wales. Scotland has had a limited amount of its own plastic five pound notes in circulation since March 2015, with mass issuance planned for October 2016.
Britain is one of the largest economies to adopt plastic banknotes and they are already in circulation in Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia.
A new plastic 10-pound note featuring the author of “Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen, will appear in 2017 and 19th century artist J.M.W. Turner, most famous for his seascapes, is due to feature on a plastic 20-pound note from 2020.
Reporting by Laura Gardner Cuesta, editing by Kate Holton and David Milliken