Burger King Takes the ‘Ham’ Out of ‘Hamburgers’ to Avoid Offending Muslims

In a gesture of respect toward its Muslim customers in South Africa, Burger King is dropping the word “ham” from the names of hamburgers on its South African menu.

The practice will affect three items offered by the restaurant chain, the company said in a statement to Business Insider.

The “Double Spicy Hamburger” will now be known simply as the “Double Spicy Burger.” The “Triple Hamburger with Cheese” is now the “Triple Burger with Cheese.” Meanwhile, the “Hamburger King Jr” will now be known as the “Kids Burger.”

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Burger King made the change in order “to be more respectful of” customers seeking halal items, according to the statement.


Halal, a word meaning “lawful or permitted” in Arabic, is the dietary standard prescribed in the Quran. The Quran forbids Muslims from eating pork.

In September, Burger King introduced bacon into its South African restaurants for the first time, Insider reported. Previously, all of its stores in South Africa had been fully halal.

Since the company added bacon to its menu, 44 South African locations are no longer halal certified.

However, a non-profit organization has certified Burger King’s remaining halal outlets as being in compliance with Shari’ah law.

Burger King South Africa’s nod to Muslims

As noted by Insider’s Phillip de Wet, the word “ham” in hamburger has nothing to do with pork. Rather, “ham” is a reference to Hamburg, Germany, where the sandwich allegedly originated.

Juan Klopper, chief operating officer for Burger King’s South African market, told Insider that his company is aware of this fact.

“It is just to be super-sensitive to perceptions, and to be super clear,” he said.

Klopper also told Insider that Muslim customers have inquired about the “ham” part of its hamburger items in the past.

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Some conservatives argue that liberal culture is overly sensitive about offending minorities in general, and Muslims in particular. Such charges are often dismissed as reflecting a bigoted or xenophobic worldview.

Cover image: Burger King restaurant in Ar Rawdah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (WikiMedia Commons)



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