KFC Canada - Source: Facebook

Ontario KFC restaurants are now Muslim-friendly with halal chicken and the removal of pork products from the menu.

All Ontario KFC restaurants, except those in Thunder Bay and Ottawa, have switched to halal chicken and removed pork products, including bacon, from the menu, except for joint KFC-Taco Bell locations.

KFC has “ensured all chicken products are Halal Certified including but not limited to chicken,” a May letter from the company to Muslim community leaders said. The letter was widely shared on social media this week.

“This initiative is a testament to our commitment to providing diverse and inclusive menu options for all our customers,” the letter said, promising the changes would be rolled out to all KFC locations nationally by the end of the year.

KFC Canada did not respond to True North’s requests for comment. However, after calling multiple stores in Ontario, True North confirmed that “everything in the store is halal” and that bacon has been taken off the menu.

Halal, an Arabic word that means “legal,” refers to food that is safe for observant Muslims to consume. There is a certification process to confirm that halal foods have been processed in accordance with Muslim scripture.

KFC has partnered with halal suppliers such as Maple Lodge Farms, which owns Zabiha Halal, which bills itself as “Canada’s #1 Halal food brand.”

Zabiha Halal’s website says all of its meat is prepared by ensuring that each bird is alive before being slaughtered. Automated blades are used to precisely cut the “esophageal, pulmonary, jugular and carotid channels,” leaving the bird’s head attached while a Muslim orally recites, “In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest!” 

“We employ more than 25 Muslim blessers to ensure that the chickens are properly blessed on the slaughtering line,” Zabiha Halal says on its website’s frequently asked questions section.

“Our halal slaughter is a continuous process. The Muslim blessers recite Tasmiah at the time each bird comes under the rotary blade. We understand that it is not possible for a person to continuously recite Tasmiah, over long periods, at the same rate,” It said. “To keep the speed consistent, the blessers at the slaughter station are rotated with other blessers to prevent fatigue. This rotation continues for the duration of the slaughter process.”

Zabiha Halal boasts that its practices are approved by “leading Muslim scholars” and internationally recognized halal certification bodies such as Muslim law interpreting organizations such as Sharia Consulting Services and Fiqh Council of North America.

According to the 2021 census, 581,950 Muslims lived in Ontario, making up about 4.9% of the province’s total population. Approximately 424,930 Muslims lived in the Greater Toronto Area alone.

Around 61% of Canada’s Muslim population lived in Ontario as of 2021.

KFC, which is owned by Yum Brands, is run by Sabir Sami, a Pakistan-born CEO who now lives in Toronto.

The move by the chicken company has garnered significant debate online.

“Halal is a barbaric form of torture. They slit the animal’s throat while it’s alive so it pushes the blood out faster. In civilized countries like ours, we stun the animal first, it feels no pain,” one user said.

“It’s like being offended by peanut-free candy bars because you aren’t allergic to peanuts when you had no intention of buying a bar with peanuts in the first place,” one user on X said. “My only concern is companies exclusively hiring Muslim butchers so they can market their meat as halal.”

Others dismissed calls for a boycott by pointing out that other chains, such as Mary Brown’s and Popeye’s, have been halal for years and that there is nothing wrong with eating halal meat if you’re not a Muslim. 
“Halal chicken isn’t going to convert you to anything. Halal chicken is usually cheaper than the other options,” one user said.