What is halal chicken? KFC’s move to ‘inclusive menu’ sparks outrage

What is halal chicken? KFC’s move to ‘inclusive menu’ sparks outrage

Here’s everything you need to know about halal-certified chicken and how it differs from regular chicken.

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Some online customers are planning a boycott of KFC Canada after the fast-food chain has announced that it will serve halal-certified chicken products in its Ontario restaurants as “a testament to our commitment to offering varied and comprehensive menu options,” according to a memo shared online over the weekend.

The change sparked a storm of outrage and led to #BoycottKFC trending on X (formerly Twitter) after a screenshot of the company memo was shared over the weekend.

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According to KFC Canada’s website, Halal-certified chicken has been available at KFC restaurants in Ontario (excluding Thunder Bay and Ottawa) since May 15 and is expected to be available in the rest of Canada by the end of the year.

National Post columnist Rahim Mohamed noted Wednesday that the online panic began when Toronto influencer Dahlia Kurtz posted a screenshot of the press release with the caption, “And so it begins, ever so quietly…” By Wednesday afternoon, the post had already garnered 5.6 million views.

The announcement comes with a partnership with Halal-certified suppliers such as Maple Lodge Farms and Zabiha Halal.

KFC Canada says in the memo that it is working with its Muslim team members to roll out the halal initiative. Restaurant staff in Ontario will receive special training and the initiative will be closely led by Muslim team members. KFC Canada, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, could not be reached for comment. An employee at KFC Yonge Eglinton Centre confirmed the menu changes to the National Post by phone but asked to remain anonymous.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Halal-certified chicken and how it differs from regular chicken.

What does Halal mean?

Halal is an Arabic word meaning “permissible.” Under Islamic law, halal includes not only food and drink, but all items of daily life, according to the Canadian Halal Food Certifying Agency (CHFCA). Halal practices are based on the Quran and the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.

According to the CHFCA, Islamic dietary laws include various requirements regarding meat and restrictions on what is not permitted or “haram.”

Food must not contain prohibited substances such as pork, alcohol or blood. It must also be free from cross-contamination with other prohibited substances.

Muslims must ensure that all food, especially ingredients used in processed foods, medicines and packaging, are also halal.

What is the difference between halal chicken and regular chicken?

According to the CHFCA, the difference between halal chicken and non-halal chicken lies in the slaughter and processing method.

Halal chickens and all land animals must be slaughtered according to Islamic law. According to the CHFCA, the animals must be slaughtered in the name of Allah by a Muslim who is of sound mind. The blood must be completely drained from the veins and the animal must be healthy at the time of slaughter.

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In contrast, according to the CHFCA, non-halal chicken and meat are not prepared in accordance with Islamic law. No special attention is paid to the cutting method or the bleeding process, and there is no religious requirement to avoid cross-contamination with haram substances during handling and processing.

Non-halal chicken may also contain additives or ingredients that are not permitted in Islam, such as certain preservatives or flavorings derived from alcohol or pork.

Why is KFC Canada switching to halal certified chicken?

In Ontario, where 6.7 percent of the population identifies as Muslim, according to Canada’s 2021 census, the global fast-food chain aims to serve Canada’s growing Muslim community. Mohamed wrote Wednesday that KFC’s move was simply good business sense.

According to the Halal Monitoring Authority, non-Muslims make up nearly 40 percent of Canada’s halal food market.

Many of KFC’s competitors, including Popeyes, Mary Brown’s, Church’s Texas Chicken and Nando’s, had already offered halal options on their menus prior to KFC Canada’s corporate headquarters’ announcement last month.

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As Mohamed notes, halal meat is also considered by some nutritionists to be healthier than other meat alternatives because it is free of hormones, genetically modified organisms and other additives. However, some humanists have raised concerns about the method of animal slaughter used in Islamic law, which involves slitting the animal’s throat while it is conscious.

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