WASHINGTON, July 17 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) – McDonald’s restaurants in the Detroit area have started to provide halal Chicken McNuggets for the growing population of Muslim customers there, an online American daily reported Tuesday.

The large Arab Muslim population of the Dearborn area was initially seen as the impetus for the move, but store supervisor Maurene Smith, of Dearborn’s Michigan Ave. McDonald’s, said she gets Muslim customers from many different ethnic backgrounds and cultures, according to the article published on The Freep, the online version of the Detroit Free Press.

Islamic rulings stipulate that other than seafood, Muslims may only eat meat that has been slaughtered in a specific manner, over which the name of anything other than God cannot have been pronounced.

Finding halal meat from a butcher grows easier as Muslim communities become more established in the West, but eating out at restaurants still poses a problem for many Muslims who will only eat zabiha meat and poultry – from animals that have been slaughtered by Muslims according to Islamic law.

Many Muslims resign themselves to home-cooked meat and vegetarian or seafood meals whenever they go out to eat. The new halal McNuggets provide an opportunity – which carries perhaps a symbolic importance beyond being just another fast-food choice – for Muslims to enjoy an emblem of this American establishment alongside their non-Muslim neighbors.

The success of the venture is due to word-of-mouth in the Muslim community, The Freep article said. Smith referred in the article to a customer who came in weekly to stock up on the halal Chicken McNuggets – “and I’m talking about a lot of nuggets. She said she wanted to be able to give her children McDonald’s.”

Smith said that although sales have leveled off since the dramatic upsurge after the product was introduced last September, their store still draws in almost twice the average store’s McNuggets sales, the article said.

The McNuggets box bearing a “halal” sticker has drawn visitors from as far away as North Carolina and New York, the article said, for people who want to show their local McDonald’s owners and spread the idea.

Earlier this month, press reports said that starting this fall, students in the Dearborn School District can buy halal food for lunch. Halal food, which is prepared according to Islamic standards, will give Muslim students the chance to follow their religion in the school cafeteria for the first time in the district.

The district will try to expand halal food choices in the fall and offer it to other Dearborn schools that show an interest in the option.

Among the options being discussed in providing more choices are halal hot dogs.