Katherine Faulkner, Daily Mail (London), March 24, 2010
A diner was left furious after a KFC restaurant refused to sell him a bacon burger–because it wasn’t halal.
Alan Phillips was told the restaurant was no longer selling his favourite ‘Big Daddy’ burger, which contains a chicken burger with bacon, cheese and salad, because it had decided to sell only halal food.
The Burton-on-Trent branch is one of the 86 out of 750 British KFC restaurants which is now selling nothing other than halal meat.
The company has taken the burger off the menu because Islamic dietary law forbids Muslims to eat anything which has been prepared on the same premises as pork, which is itself strictly forbidden.
It said it was responding to ‘increased demand’ for a halal menu in the areas of Britain with growing Muslim populations.
Mr Phillips said he found the change ‘extremely unfair’ on non-Muslim customers.
‘I can’t believe a chain like this has taken this stance,’ said Mr Phillips.
‘Staff told me that due to the dietary laws halal meat could not be prepared in the same place as other meats, so I couldn’t have my bacon.
‘It was like they were saying I couldn’t buy bacon because it might offend people.’
Mr Phillips was told he would have to travel to another KFC five miles away to buy his bacon burger.
He protested that this was too far for him to travel.
‘It is getting silly,’ he said. ‘I have many friends who are black, white and Muslim but they wouldn’t be forced to eat non-halal meat.
‘I have no problem with them selling halal meat, but I would like the choice.’
In order for meat to be considered halal it must traditionally be slaughtered by hand and blessed in the name of Allah.
And it cannot be kept on the same premises as banned substances including pork and alcohol.
KFC said the chickens in its halal restaurants had not been slaughtered by hand and that it had not changed any of its welfare standards.
Demand for halal food in Britain has surged in recent years as the Muslim population has grown.
Latest figures show the number of Muslims in Britain is growing ten times faster than the rest of the population.
The number of Muslims in Britain soared to 2.4million–an increase of 500,000 in the four years from 2004 to 2008.
Sales of halal meat now account for 11 per cent of all fresh meat sales in the UK and are worth about £400million a year.
And a number of food chains have sought to cash in by opening halal outlets.
Domino’s Pizza have three halal stores in Muslim-dominated areas of Birmingham, Blackburn and Bradford, where pork sausage pizza toppings have been replaced by cured turkey.
McDonald’s trialled halal food in its store in Southall, West London, in 2007–but abandoned the plan because it proved too difficult.
‘It’s really important to us that our customers have the choice of the full range of McDonald’s products in all of our stores,’ said spokesman Steve Haywood.
‘We would only ever offer halal as a choice and to do that we had to have the kitchen literally split down the middle, with different staff and different equipment.
‘While it was technically possible to do it, it just wasn’t feasible.’
High-end restaurants and shops have also been keen to benefit from the growing market for halal produce.
Luxury department store Harrods now sells boxes of sugar-coated fruit pastilles and raspberry and blackberry fruit-flavoured gums made using halal gelatin.
KFC spokeswoman Nina Arnott said the halal trial was expected to last ‘a few months’.
She said: ‘We’ve responded to requests to provide halal food in some parts of the UK and the Middleway Park restaurant in Burton is one of the restaurants taking part in our trial.
‘The Big Daddy is the only product we’ve taken off the menu at our trial stores and we’re using exactly the same ingredients and exactly the same tasting chicken as before.
‘We’re sorry Mr Phillips feels disappointed but we’d recommend he visits our nearest non-halal restaurant, at the Derby Xtra services five miles away, if he wants to get his hands on a Big Daddy burger.’