KFC restaurants in Ontario secretly go all-halal

What the halal?! We went to KFC HQ to find out why – and they threatened to call the police!

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Does the “K” in KFC stand for “Kentucky” – or “Kabul”?

Many Ontarians and visitors to the province must be asking themselves this query given that all Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Ontario – except, oddly, for those situated in Ottawa and Thunder Bay – are now exclusively using halal chicken.

An internal memo written in May recently surfaced noting that this initiative is being undertaken as a “testament to our commitment to provide diverse and inclusive menu options.”

Many beg to differ: how is halal-only chicken and the removal of bacon from the menu “inclusive” if one is not a Muslim patron?

Indeed, members of other faith groups ranging from Catholics and Hindus to Sikhs say they are forbidden to consume halal-slaughtered meat. So, where exactly is the “inclusivity”? And whatever happened to providing choice on the menu? In other words, why not offer halal as well as non-halal chicken and let the consumer decide what’s best?

Of note, business-wise, the halal chicken only/no pork products would appear to be a dubious marketing strategy given that Muslims make up less than 5% of the Ontario population.

So, the question arises: why? In the internal KFC Canada memo in May announcing the switchover to halal chicken and the banning of bacon, no tangible reasons are given by the executive who penned the memo.

Some observers believe this is a pet project of KFC Canada’s CEO, Sabir Sami, a Muslim who was born in Pakistan. Could it be that Sami has a personal preference for halal?

We reached out to the Vaughan, Ont.-based Yum! Brands, which runs KFC restaurants in Ontario and is also responsible for Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Our calls and emails were ignored, so we visited the foodservice giant’s headquarters north of Toronto. Alas, Yum! Brands doesn’t seem amused that the halal cat is out of the bag: a woman who met us in the lobby threatened to call the police if we did not leave the building immediately.

Notably, there’s been a huge negative backlash on social media regarding this initiative.

States Mark Slapinski on X: “Only 5% of Canadians are Muslim. But nearly 100% of KFC restaurants in Canada will soon be serving Halal. This is Trudeau's Canada. Where the loud minority dictates the policies.”

Potato Rustler writes: “No more KFC for me. This has nothing to do with religion. Halal slaughter is inhumane, and I will never support animal cruelty.”

And a Sikh organization called Non-Halal Advocacy Canada is calling for a boycott of KFC restaurants. This group recently posted the following on X: “It’s time to unite as a community, and advocate against the halalifcation of Canadian restaurants. We Sikhs do NOT eat Halal!”

Another sticking point with many is the lack of full disclosure that only halal-slaughtered chickens are on the menu at KFC. This is especially galling to members of those faith groups who cannot eat halal products. If Yum! Brands thinks going the halal route is a good thing, then why the secrecy?

For now, we can only speculate what their motives are as the company is not responding to media outlets. Which is a shame, given that we would relish to get their side of the story.

In the meantime, we must ponder: if KFC founder Harland Sanders was alive today, what would the Colonel say about halal now becoming part of that famous secret recipe that comprises those legendary 11 herbs and spices? Finger lickin’ good – or something with a bad aftertaste?

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