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  • Jul 13, 2014
  • Updated: 4:46pm
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FOOD

McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut say no to request to offer halal meat

McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut say no to imam's request to offer Islamic-certified meat, despite his claim it would be shrewd business

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 7:33am
 

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  • Yes: 64%
  • No: 36%
24 Sep 2013
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Total number of votes recorded: 372

Hong Kong's three biggest fast-food chains have rejected a call by Hong Kong's chief imam to offer halal meat in their restaurants.

Mufti Muhammad Arshad contacted McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Pizza Hut to request that they use halal meat in some of their outlets. He said it would not only be good for Hong Kong's Muslims, but also a shrewd business move.

Halal is an Arabic word that means "permissible". Halal meat comes from an animal slaughtered according to Islamic law. That means Allah's (God's) name must be pronounced during slaughter, the instrument used must be very sharp to ensure humane slaughter (the animal must be slit at the throat), the animal must not be unconscious, and it must be hung upside down and allowed to bleed dry.

Eating blood is not halal. Pork is not halal, nor are certain cuts of meat, such as from an animal's hindquarters.

Arshad said he sent letters to the fast-food chains, but McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut all said that they had no plans to introduce halal meat in their outlets. But Arshad said it would be only a matter of time before they signed up, as McDonald's and KFC served halal food in other Asian markets, such as Singapore.

Halal certification of restaurants began in Singapore in the mid-1990s. Singaporean food blogger Daniel Ang says that the likes of Le Steak, a new halal steakhouse in the Jalan Kayu district, has been "packing the crowds in" at the weekends. In Hong Kong there are already halal outlets at Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park.

"It's disappointing that we could not convince the companies," Arshad said. "It doesn't have to be Hong Kong-wide. In the main areas, like Central, Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui, the New Territories and at the airport, it would be a great service. The companies have to realise there is a need for this and that it is good business for them."

Tourism sector lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun said he would welcome anything that would increase the diversity of Hong Kong and cater for people from different religious backgrounds. He said it would also be good for local businesses.

"The government has been trying to promote Islamic investment here, so the move would be beneficial to tourism in Hong Kong and our financial market," Tse said. "It's also a chance to attract tourists from Muslim countries to Hong Kong. We're showing that we are catering for them."

There are about 250,000 Muslims in Hong Kong, more than half of whom are Chinese. The rest are either locally born non-Chinese or are from Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Middle Eastern and African countries. In recent years, the biggest segment of Muslims in the territory have been Indonesians. Mostly female domestic workers, they account for almost half of Hong Kong's Muslim population - 120,000 people.

Arshad said that more than 50 restaurants served halal meat in Hong Kong. The meat is checked as being halal-certified in the country from which it is imported by Arshad and his staff.

"We double-check that a certified Muslim organisation has imported the meat and that the animal has been slaughtered according to Islamic rites," he said. "If we are satisfied that everything is in order, then we will issue a local halal certificate to let restaurants know that everything is fine."

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This article is now closed to comments

carmeledwin
There is no such thing as an option here. Try and run a restaurant here in Hong Kong. There are only less than 4% of the customers who are Muslims and want halal food. What are they going to do? They either serve only halal food or non-halal food. Try and get non-halal food in a halal restaurant see what answer you get. There is simply no way that a restaurant can cater to both at the same time. There will also be the danger of a mix up when the restaurant is very busy and therefore non-halal food being served to halal customers.
Incidentally you do have freedom of choice when it comes to food in the Mainland. You also can find halal restaurants in Mainland China.
bluefirestorm
250,000 out of 7 million is 3.6%. This compares to an estimated 15% Muslim population in Singapore.
It isn't as simple as having just a few locations being halal. For a chain like McDonalds, Pizza Hut, or KFC, making a few locations halal doesn't make business sense as it only risks having halal and non-halal ingredients/practices getting mixed. It makes sense only if the entire supply chain becomes halal. On the other hand, it doesn't make business sense to overhaul the supply chain to chase after a 3.6% market share.
Just an example, the salami and pepperoni used in the pizza will have be to halal (i.e. should not contain pork and thus has to be made from meat from cattle slaughtered in the halal way).
irfanali.awan.3
Having a halal KFC or Pizza or McDonald's would be a nice thing to see in HK. There are lots of muslim tourists coming to HK these days. It will be both good for business and help promote HK as a muslim friendly tourist city. Remember, HK is a forward looking city open to accepting diversity and differences. We should instill these values in the younger generation through education and guidance. Irfan
lokuohsiung
Terribly short-sighted of all three brands, but especially surprising for McDonald's since they're usually way ahead of the curve. There's nothing wrong with diversity and acceptance. Anyone who says otherwise really has no place in Hong Kong, or the 21st century for that matter.
EHI
McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut are private businesses. It would have been rather rude of me if I were to go into an Indian restaurant and demand bangers and mash, wouldn't it?
honger
Too bad for the junk food giants - they will lose the biz of a quarter million people here.
Good for the Muslims, especially their young children, since they will grow up healthy and strong sans the junk food.....
johndoe
But the point is that they want to make the muslims eat junk food. They did not ask the luxury restaurants to change. Was your irony intentional?

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