2 US McDonald's drop halal food after suit

DETROIT (AP) - The only two McDonald's restaurants in the United States (US) that were serving food prepared according to Islamic law have stopped several weeks after a US$700,000 (S$893,000) settlement over a lawsuit that alleged the items weren't consistently halal.

The fast-food giant said in a statement on Monday that the locations in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, which has a large Muslim population, are no longer offering a halal McChicken sandwich or Chicken McNuggets in order "to focus on our national core menu".

The corporation added it takes into account "local and dietary preferences", and supports its franchisees in Dearborn. Neither the statement nor a spokesman said whether McDonald's decision was related to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, brought by customer Ahmed Ahmed in 2011, technically covered anyone who bought the halal-advertised products between September 2005 and January from the two restaurants.

A letter sent to McDonald's and restaurant franchisee Finley's Management, by attorney Kassem Dakhlallah's firm Jaafar and Mahdi Law Group, said Mr Ahmed had "confirmed from a source familiar with the inventory" that the restaurant had sold non-halal food "on many occasions".

In the settlement notice, Finley's Management said it "has a carefully designed system for preparing and serving halal such that halal chicken products are labelled, stored, refrigerated, and cooked in halal-only areas".

The company added it trains its employees on preparing halal food and "requires strict adherence to the process".

McDonald's attorney Thomas McNeill said during a hearing earlier this year that the investigations and negotiations proved that if a problem arose, "it was isolated and rare".

The settlement is being shared by Mr Ahmed, a Muslim-run Detroit health clinic, Dearborn's Arab American National Museum and lawyers.

Mr Dakhlallah said on Monday that "there is no shortage of halal options for consumers" in Dearborn, home to one of the largest mosques in North America. Overall, the Detroit area is home to about 150,000 Muslims.

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