A Muslim man in Michigan has filed suit against a local Little Caesar’s restaurant for falsely claiming its pizza to be halal despite the fact that it was topped with pepperoni made from pork. According to the suit, Mohamad Bazzi stated that despite assurances that the pizza was “safe” to eat according to religious dietary laws, he was served the one food that is considered to be “one of the worst sins “ any devote Muslim could consume. on two separate occasions (May 20 and 24). Not only did the discovery that he and his wife had accidentally eaten the forbidden food make them violently ill, the purpose of the suit was to ensure that no other Muslims would suffer the same fate, particularly with the onset of Ramadan (which began May 27).
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to in commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. During that time believers refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations between dawn and sunset. The observance is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam. This year it will culminate June 25.
Bazzi claims that he was able to tell the difference between the regular pepperoni and that made from non-pork products after having previously worked in a pizza parlor himself. In addition, Bazzi’s wife (a converted Catholic) said she could tell the difference after “spending most of her life eating pork.”
“It’s really upsetting, stated Bazzi’s lawyer, Majed Moughni. “My clients want the public to know. Especially during Ramadan, it would be a travesty if Muslims.”
For those who may not be familiar with the term, Halal is the Islamic equivalent of kosher for Jews and requires that meat is prepared according to guidelines set forth in the Koran. For instance, both sets of laws require that animals used for food must be fed a natural diet that does not contain animal by-products, and that their eventual slaughter must be done swiftly with a knife to the jugular to make it as painless as possible for the beast. Animals that are found already dead cannot be used for meat. In addition, neither kosher nor halal dietary practices allow the consumption of pork. nor birds of prey. The main difference between the two is that while Halal refers only to meat, kosher designation covers all food. In the meantime, Muslims are permitted to eat kosher meat. They are also allowed to eat non-halal food to prevent death due to starvation.
The call for halal foods has grown considerably in recent years. In fact, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce has reported that purchases in the US alone topped $1 trillion in 2013, and accounted “16.6 % the worldwide food beverage market, with an annual growth of 6.9%.” Meanwhile, the demand for halal food in European countries is now said to have an annual growth rate of nearly 15% and is currently worth close to $30 billion.
Although Jill Proctor, a spokeswoman for Little Caesars issued a statement expressing the company’s contention that Bazzi’s claim against Little Caesars Pizza, Little Caesars Enterprises and the employees of the Dearborn, MI store alleging “ breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and fraud” is “without merit,” she did iterate that “Little Caesars cherishes our customers from all religions and cultures, and the communities we serve are very important to us.”
In the meantime, the case has reportedly been settled for $700,000.