In 2002, Afzal Lokhandwala, an observant Muslim, opened his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Illinois, advertising that 75% of the chicken was halal (slaughtered and processed according to Islamic law), and that the restaurant kept halal and non-halal products separated so there would be no cross-contamination. The strategy was so successful that Mr. Lokhandwala would go on to open five more franchises, marketing his KFC branches to the local Muslim communities.
According to Slate magazine, KFC’s corporate office signed off on this Muslim friendly approach but about a year ago, the company decided that Mr. Lokhandwala had to stop advertising his franchises as halal-compliant. Mr. Lokhandwala was devastated by this determination, and sued KFC, protesting that since the chain had long allowed his advertising approach, that by banning it now would hurt his business.
Recently, a federal judge recently ruled in KFC’s favor, citing a past corporate decision which didn’t allow franchise owners to make religious dietary claims about its food. KFC also said that the company could not guarantee that its restaurants would be able to prevent cross-contamination between halal and non-halal foods. According to Slate, Mr. Lokhandwala’s restaurants “have been the subject of furious debates among Chicago-area Muslims about whether his processing procedures and coating ingredients qualified as halal.”