A KFC franchisee in Chicago is suing the chain after being told he cannot serve halal buckets of chicken.
Afzal Lokhandwala owns and operates eight KFC stores in the Chicago area, and says he’s been serving certified halal chicken for more than a decade, according to Courthouse News. Now, however, KFC is enforcing a policy the company says it’s had in place since 2009, which prohibits franchisees from making religious claims about the chain’s food.
But Afzal claims KFC failed to include notice of such a policy in its franchisee agreement; he says it wasn’t until 2016 that the company notified him he was in violation of the policy, at which point KFC had been knowingly allowing him to serve halal chicken for 14 years, even assisting him in locating halal meat distributors.
For meat to be considered halal, it must not come from a forbidden animal (such as a pig), must be slaughtered in a particular way (involving a cut to the throat), and all the blood must be drained from the carcass.
"Thousands of Muslims within the Chicago metropolitan area eat at Plaintiffs' restaurants because they know Afzal is Muslim and the restaurants sell Halal chicken," the lawsuit states. Afzal says that if he’s no longer allowed to serve certified halal chicken, he’ll lose his Muslim customer base and will likely be forced to close four of his eight locations, putting as many as 80 people out of jobs.
Reached for comment via email, a spokesperson for KFC provided the following statement:
While we cannot comment on the specifics on ongoing litigation, KFC values its customers and franchisees of different faiths. We recognize that many of our valued customers have specific dietary requirements associated with their religious beliefs. Unfortunately, we are not able to make religious claims, such as Halal or Kosher, about KFC products at this time. There are two barriers that we are not able to overcome. First, there are different interpretations of these terms within the same religious faith. Second, KFC cannot certify that in-restaurant preparation and cooking processes meet religious guidelines, for example restricting contact with non-Halal or non-Kosher food.
Check out the lawsuit in its entirety, below: