KFC refusal of handwipes to avoid offending Muslims upsets UK customer

(Photo: REUTERS / Samsul Said)Cadbury chocolate products are is seen inside a shop in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur June 11, 2014. The storm of bad publicity that hit confectioner Cadbury in Malaysia after its chocolates tested positive for traces of pork highlights the costly, religious minefield food companies must navigate as they rush to tap the surging trillion global halal market.

A KFC customer was shocked when he was refused a handwipe by the staff of the halal-only branch of KFC in St. George's retail park, Leicester, U.K.

Staff told Graham Noakes he could not have the wipes because they contain alcohol, which is banned in Islam, the Leicester Mercury reported.

Islam permits its follower to consume halal food that meet a set of criteria.

The 41-year-old customer was disgusted upon hearing this, saying that he has never had such an experience.

"They told me it might offend other customers," he said.

Noakes is in Leicester working on the construction of a new Muslim community center and said that using handwipes is not wrong because the alcohol content of it is not consumed.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Why shouldn't I be allowed a wipe for my hands?"

He noted that wipes are used in the hospitals. He wonders now what will happen if they won't be allowed to use wipes there.


The Quran prohibits practicing Muslims from drinking alcohol.

In a number of verses, it states that alcohol contains evil that outweighs good.

Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the Leicester-based Federation of Muslim Organizations, said: "I know alcohol is prohibited in the Muslim community, but I don't understand why you can't use handwipes - there's nothing wrong with it."

He affirmed what Noakes said that using alcohol doesn't mean you are consuming it. "It seems like an unusual decision to be made. In fact it sounds bizarre."

KFC has run a halal trial within communities where there is a strong demand for halal products.

The food company says this stems from a growing number of requests from customers to provided halal food in parts of the UK.

A KFC spokesman said the branch in Leicester had decided not to stock wet wipes that contain alcohol as part of a halal-only trial.

The spokesman said: "Wherever possible, we have taken steps to ensure that our halal restaurants are close to a non-halal store to cater to all of our customers' needs, and, in this case, customers wanting a non-halal option can visit another nearby restaurant."

But Noakes is not convinced: "When they wouldn't give me one, I was disgusted. I will never be going to KFC again."

A spokesperson for KFC later said: "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."

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