Claim: KFC has banned sanitizing hand wipes because they contain alcohol, which may offend Muslim customers.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, September 2014]
Is it true that KFC is banning alcohol wipes so as to not offend Muslims? Far Right site says it happened in England, but could happen in US. Sounds fishy to me.
Origins: On 29 September 2014, the British tabloid Mirror published an article claiming that a halal-only KFC refused a customer’s request for sanitizing hand wipes. The reason? Wet wipes contain alcohol, which is forbidden by Islam.
The Mirror quoted 41-year-old Graham Noakes’ account of his visit to a KFC outlet in Leicester, England. Noakes said that he requested a sanitizing hand wipe, but workers at the KFC informed him that the branch did not provide them due to their alcohol content:
They told me it might offend other customers. I explained that it wouldn’t affect me. In fact … I told them I like alcohol, so it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.
When they wouldn’t give me one, I was disgusted. I will never be going to KFC again.
Noakes felt that KFC’s rejection of sanitizing hand wipes as non-halal could have bigger implications:
Why shouldn’t I be allowed a wipe for my hands? … They use wipes in hospital, what happens when we start being told we can’t have wipes there? I just can’t understand it.
Suleman Nagdi of Leicester’s Federation of Muslim Organisation commented to the paper, indicating that restrictions on the consumption of alcohol by Muslims did not extend to the use of sanitizing hand wipes. Calling the practice “bizarre,” he explained:
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. I’ve never come across anything like this before. KFC have made a commercial decision to do this, and now the Muslim community will face backlash.
However, the lack of wipes at the Leicester KFC appears to have been a misunderstanding rather than a “commercial decision.” A spokesman for the fried chicken chain told the Mirror that sanitizing hand wipes had been approved for both halal-only and non-halal KFC branches in the UK:
Our alcohol-based hand wipes are approved for use in all our restaurants, including those who are part of the halal trial.
There was a misunderstanding at the store in question, but the wipes are now being used again. We’re sorry for the customer’s experience.
Nagdi said that misunderstandings like the one at the Leicester KFC may not be malicious, but damage is done to Muslim enclaves by such rumors nonetheless:
Sometimes the intention is sincere but they do need to understand the repercussions of this upon the community.
We have all the bigots coming out and saying “there you go again, the Muslims are demanding something” when it is not the case that we are demanding anything. It is ridiculous to suggest that this is some kind of demand from the Muslim community.
Both Noakes and the Mirror framed his interaction with KFC as a “refusal,” as if the KFC outlet was in possession of sanitizing hand wipes but had opted to withhold them from customers. KFC said the lack of hand wipes was a misunderstanding, and not all branches of all fast food outlets offer hand wipes, regardless of the eateries’ halal status.
Last updated: 29 September 2014
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