REPORTS FROM the Leicester Mercury this weekend that a customer was refused hand wipes by staff at a local KFC in case it ‘offended other customers’ because they contained alcohol, has highlighted the gap in knowledge in the foodservice sector on religious dietary needs.
According to the report, the customer was told hand wipes were against KFC’s halal policy. The local Muslim community have since been quoted as saying the decision was ‘bizarre’.
This latest story is one of many that has shown up the wider foodservice sector as lacking in understanding of halal. Just days ago it was reported that a school in Bradford was offering Muslim children ham, despite express parental wishes they receive halal-only meals.
The issues of halal has led to a number of high profile chains, including the likes of Pizza Express, revealing they use compliant meat across its sites; a fact not well-received by everyone.
The reports from Leicester have been passed off as a misunderstanding by KFC, which said the company had been running a halal trial since 2010, in “areas where there has been demand from our customers”, such as the restaurant in St George’s Retail Park.
He said that as a result “a small number of products from our usual menu are not available”, and in addition the St George’s branch had decided not to stock wet wipes that contain alcohol”.
However, local Muslims have voiced concerns that this decision lacks consideration for how Muslims are perceived, particularly in light of the fact that those practising Islam can – in fact – use alcohol wipes.
Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the Leicester-based Federation of Muslim Organisations, said: “I know alcohol is prohibited in the Muslim community, but I don’t understand why you can’t use hand-wipes - there’s nothing wrong with it.
“Using alcohol doesn’t mean you’re consuming it.
“It seems like an unusual decision to be made.
“In fact, it sounds bizarre.”
Suleman said such decisions potentially provoked some people to start “lashing out” at the Muslim community.
“I’ve never come across anything like this before,” he added.
“KFC have made a commercial decision to do this, and now the Muslim community will face backlash.”