Updated: February 18 2018, 1:49 PM EST
In mid-February 2019, a number of Facebook posts encouraged users to boycott Subway over a purported menu change removing ham to appease Muslim customers.
On February 17 2019, Facebook page “The Conservative Rebel” shared a link to an article along with the following post:
Subway removes ham and bacon from nearly 200 stores after ‘strong demand’ from Muslims who can only eat halal meat.
A number of commenters stated that they intended to cease dining at Subway, adding that the chain was “bowing down to “Guests” in our country.” It seemed that few users bothered to click through to the shared article before further spreading the claim, as it led to additional information that clearly contradicted central aspects of the outrage.
Based on posts to Subway’s wall and comments on shares of the article, readers inferred that it reported Subway discontinued all pork products on its menu across the United States. But the linked item was a 2014 Daily Mail article, and that was about completely different changes affecting 200 Subway outlets in the UK.
Further, the original and vague report didn’t claim that ham was “banned” in Subway stores — only that some meat products would be removed from some stores and all animals would be slaughtered in halal-friendly facilities:
Subway removes ham and bacon from nearly 200 stores and offers halal meat only after ‘strong demand’ from Muslims
Fast food giant Subway has removed ham and bacon from almost 200 outlets, and switched to halal meat alternatives in an attempt to please its Muslim customers.
It has confirmed turkey ham and turkey rashers will be used instead in 185 of its stores, where all the meat will now be prepared according to halal rules.
The chain, which has around 1,500 outlets across the UK, explained its decision by saying it had to balance animal welfare concerns with ‘the views of religious communities’.
Commenters also seemed confused about the significance of halal meat:
Halal is Arabic for permissible. Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran.
The Islamic form of slaughtering animals or poultry, dhabiha, involves killing through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe.
The claim dated back to April 2014. Its original source (the UK’s Daily Mail) did not claim Subway “banned” pork or ham but removed it from some (but not all) stores; the original 2014 article only had to do with the United Kingdom.