Dearborn, MI, home to one of the largest Mosques in North America and to a sizable Muslim population of over 150,000 people is seeing litigation over food products sold at McDonalds that were identified as Halal but were not truly within the Islamic dietary code.
McDonald’s franchises will consider all of the preferences of their local customers, but obviously the vast majority of singular preferences or restrictions which make an impact on each individual franchisee’s P & L would receive a greater weight in any decision towards what food items to sell. In a statement made on Monday, McDonald’s is no longer offering halal McChicken or McNuggets in two of its restaurants. In pulling these items, they will focus on their “national core menu.”
A Halal dietary restriction isn’t like a low sodium diet or a low fat restriction, that can be mish moshed or fudged on occasion or paused when a really delicious plate of food seems like a wonderful cheat worthy meal. The Islamic dietary restrictions are more serious, like the way vegans in arms or PETA rallies happen. When folks are serious about their food, let them eat what they want! A restaurant should understandably be sensitive to the desires of customers and should never mislabel or falsely advertise because it ruins the intangible balance sheet item called good will. And losing the good will of people will ultimately result in a loss of net income and profits.
According to the Huffington Post, McDonald’s franchisee Finley’s Management said it “has a carefully designed system for preparing and serving halal such that halal chicken products are labeled, stored, refrigerated, and cooked in halal only areas.”
Of course the lawsuit brought by customer Ahmed Ahmed claimed that the food was falsely advertised and that according to a “confirmed source familiar with the inventory” the restaurant served non-halal food “on many occasions.”The Huffington Post reports that McDonald’s attorney Thomas McNeill said during a hearing earlier that year that the investigations proved that if a problem arose “it was isolated and rare.”
Attorney Kassem Dakhlallah brought the lawsuit and also commented on the injunction. “If the result of the class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s was that the companies who were falsely advertising halal products stopped pretending to be halal compliant, that’s a good thing for customers. I doubt that truly halal compliant businesses would stop offering halal products,“ he said.
The class-action lawsuit ended in a settlement, and McDonald’s no longer offers anything Halal on their menu. The settlement was for $700,000. It was shared by the Arab-American Museum, with the Muslim-run Detroit health clinic. It was also shared by Ahmed Ahmed, the customer who became a whistleblower.