The only two McDonald’s restaurants in the United States that offered halal products, food prepared according to Islamic law, have taken those items off the menu after a contentious lawsuit. Both of the restaurants were in Dearborn, Michigan, which has a large population of Arab-American Muslims; nearly 40% of Dearborn’s 100,000 residents are of Arab ancestry.
The two McDonald’s originally began offering the halal items back in 2000. According to the fast-food giant on Friday, it declared that it would no longer be offering the halal McChicken sandwich or Chicken McNuggets in order “to focus on our national core menu.”
McDonald’s, which has over 14,000 restaurants in the United States, started selling halal products in September 2000 for the first time at its location on Michigan Avenue near Greenfield. This followed with the McDonald’s on Ford Road, which is east of Schaefer. In 2000, nearly 65% of Chicken McNuggets sold at the Michigan Avenue location were the halal version.
The removal of the halal items, done last month, comes after a lawsuit filed in 2011 by Ahmed Ahmed, alleging that the restaurant was selling non-halal chicken that it claimed to be halal. Employees of the location were mistakenly giving non-halal products to customers who asked for halal ones.
The settlement, $700,000, was reached in April. Of that sum, $25,000 was granted to Ahmed Ahmed, $275,000 to the Huda Clinic, a Muslim health center in Detroit, $150,000 to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, and the rest went to attorney fees. McDonald’s denied any wrongdoing in the settlement agreement, and in the settlement notice, Finley’s Management stated it “has a carefully designed system for preparing and serving halal such that the halal chicken products are labeled, stored, refrigerated, and cooked in halal-only areas.” They also added that they train employees on the preparation of halal food and “requires strict adherence to the practice.”
The corporation says it takes into account “local and dietary preferences,” but neither the statement nor the spokeswoman said whether the decision was related to the lawsuit.
There have been mixed feelings about it, with some customers expressing disappointment, while others are glad that the fast-food chain is no longer offering an option that is open to room for mistakes. Kassem Dakhlallah, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said on Friday the decision was “disappointing”, but added if McDonald’s couldn’t guarantee the food was halal, “then ceasing to offer halal products was probably the best decision.”
McDonald’s still offers halal products in Muslim majority companies such as Saudi Arabia.