(Photo : REUTERS)
Members of a Muslim community allege that a Detroit-area McDonald's was falsely advertising its food as being prepared according to Islamic dietary law, according to the Associated Press. Now, the fast food giant and a franchise owner agreed to pay $700,000 to the affected customers in a settlement.
The money from the tentative settlement will be split between Dearborn Heights resident Ahmed Ahmed, a Detroit health clinic, the Arab American National Museum and lawyers, the Associated Press reports. The agreement is expected to be finalized March 1.
"McDonald's from the very beginning stepped up and took this case very seriously," Ahmed's lawyer Kassem Dakhlallah said. "They made it clear they wanted to resolve this. They got ahead of the problem."
Ahmed said that he purchased a chicken sandwich in September 2011 before finding out that it was not halal--a term used for describing a food item that meets Islamic dietary laws.
Dearborn is host of one of the nation's largest Muslim communities and home to one of two McDonald's in the whole country that sell halal food products, Ahmed's attorney Dakhlallah said.
Dakhlallah accused the McDonalds in Dearborn of selling non-halal product when they ran out of halal and after being approached by Ahmed, launched an investigation.
After Ahmed confirmed that the Dearborn eatery was in fact vending non-halal food, Dakhlallah sent a letter to McDonald's Corp. and Finley's Management but received no response. They filed a lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court in November 2011, according to the Associated Press who could not get in contact with legal teams representing McDonald's and the management company.
But Finley's Management claims in the settlement notice that they have "a carefully designed system for preparing and serving halal such that halal chicken products are labeled, stored, refrigerated, and cooked in halal-only areas."
This is not the first time a dietary restriction related lawsuit was brought to McDonald's
In 2002, the fast food corporation agreed to donate $10 million to Hindu and other groups to settle a lawsuit that alleged McDonald's was mislabeling french fries and hash browns as vegetarian when the oil they were cooked in contained traces of beef for flavoring, according to the Huffington Post.