McDonald’s settles Halal-based lawsuit

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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DEARBORN, Mich. – Members of the Muslim community will receive $700,000 from McDonald’s and one of its franchise owners to settle allegations a Detroit-area McDonald’s falsely advertised its food as being prepared Halal (according to Islamic dietary law), according to The Washington Post .

On Jan. 18, McDonald’s and Finley’s Management Co. agreed to the tentative settlement. The money will be shared by Ahmed Ahmed, a Dearborn Heights resident; a Detroit health clinic; the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn and lawyers.

The preliminary deal is expected to be finalized March 1. McDonald’s and Finley’s Management say the settlement is in their best interests – although they deny any liability.

According to the lawsuit, Ahmed allegedly bought a chicken sandwich in September 2011 at a Dearborn McDonald’s but discovered it was not Halal. Islam forbids consumption of pork, and God’s name must be invoked before an animal providing meat for consumption is slaughtered, the report explained.

There are only two McDonald’s in the US that sell Halal products and both are in Dearborn, which is one of the largest Arab and Muslim communities in the US, according to Ahmed’s attorney Kassem Daklallah. The Detroit area contains approximately 150,000 Muslims of many different ethnicities.

The locations advertise that they exclusively sell Halal Chicken McNuggets and McChicken sandwiches and they have to get those products from an approved Halal provider, Dakallah said. He said there was no evidence of problems on the production side, but he alleges that the Dearborn location on Ford Road sold non-halal products when it ran out of halal.

Daklallah said he was contacted by Ahmed and they conducted an investigation. A letter sent to McDonald’s Corp. and Finley’s Management by Daklallah’s firm said Ahmed had “confirmed from a source familiar with the inventory” the restaurant had sold non-Halal food “on many occasions.” Daklallah said they filed a lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court in November 2011 as part of a class action after they allegedly received no response to their letter.

Finley’s Management said in the settlement notice 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.” The company also trains its employees on preparing Halal food and “requires strict adherence to the process,” it added

Ahmed’s attorney said although his client believes McDonald’s was negligent, there was no evidence it intended to deceive customers.

The lawsuit covers anyone who bought Halal-advertised products from the Ford Road restaurant and another Dearborn McDonald’s with a different owner between September 2005 and last Friday. Both sides agreed to provide money to community-based charities that benefit members of this group, Daklallah said.

Although a final hearing will determine who gets how much money and the amount of money, approximately $275,000 is expected to go to the Huda Clinic, $150,000 to the museum, $230,000 to attorneys and $20,000 to Ahmed.

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