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Michigan McDonald's to pay $700K over false advertisement claims

McDonald's will settle a lawsuit claiming that one of its Michigan franchises wrongfully advertised its food as halal by paying $700,000 members of a local Muslim community. The Dearborn-based franchise reportedly told customers its chicken had been prepared according to Islamic dietary law. Dearborn is home to the U.S.'s only two McDonald's that sell halal products, as it is home to one of the nation's largest Muslim communities. However, the plaintiff and his attorney found that one of the franchises sold non-halal chicken when they ran out of halal food, failing to inform customers of the switch.

The plaintiff brought the commercial litigation against McDonald's and the owner of the Dearborn franchise after he and his attorney failed to receive a response for a letter they sent to the fast food giant, filing a class action lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court in 2011.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff purchased a chicken sandwich at the franchise after being informed it was prepared in a way that abides by Islamic law-halal meat must be slaughtered and butchered in the name of God and meet a number of other special requirements. Suspecting that the franchises chicken was not in fact halal, the man contacted an attorney and the two conducted an investigation in which they claim to have confirmed that the franchise falsely billed non-halal foods as halal "on many occasions."

Although McDonald's claims to follow a strict system for preparing and serving halal food and denies that the franchise intended to deceive its Muslim customers, the plaintiff's attorney said the company was eager to resolve the claim in a timely manner.

Because it is impossible to determine who was affected by the issue, McDonald's and the plaintiff agreed to split the money between several Muslim groups and charities. The plaintiff will split the $700,000 settlement fund with Dearborn's Arab American National Museum and Detroit health clinic.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "McDonald's settles Michigan suit over non-halal chicken," Jeff Karoub, Jan. 22, 2013

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