The pork industry is “squealing” over the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ decision to take pork off the menu in the nation’s 122 federal prisons. Inmates at the Terre Haute Federal Prison will no longer have the opportunity to choose pork. It’s no small matter for the pork industry that more than 200,000 federal inmates nationwide will no longer be able to eat bacon, pork chops, ham, and other pork products. The Bureau of Prisons says the inmates at the nation’s 122 federal penitentiaries just don’t like the taste of pork, based on a food preference survey.But that’s “hogwash,” according to National Pork Producers spokesman Dave Warner, “I find it hard to believe that any population would say no to bacon.”
Prison Bureau spokesman Edmond Ross says pork has been “the lowest-rated food” by inmates for several years, and it’s now more expensive for the government to buy. But the Pork Council’s Warner says, “Pork is a nutrient-dense source of protein and, through the commodity programs, the government gets pork at a very economical price.” The NPPC says 547,800 jobs are involved in various aspects of the pork industry, creating an estimated $22.3 billion in personal income and contributing $39 billion to the GDP.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that there had been some concerns from inmates’ families that the move had to do with Muslim and Jewish dietary restrictions being effectively imposed on the rest of the inmates. However, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that, while they welcomed the move, they were not behind it. “It helps with the religious accommodation of Muslim and Jewish inmates who don’t eat pork,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, told FoxNews.com. However, Hooper dismissed concerns that Islamic advocacy groups had anything to do with the move, saying that, while it had always pushed for halal exemptions for Muslim inmates, they have no reason to push for pork being denied to non-Muslim prisoners. “We’ve never requested that the Bureau of Prisons remove pork from all of its menus. We would have no reason to,” Hooper stated.
Could the Prison Bureau’s decision be a dangerous precedent for other agencies, such as the Pentagon? “Without knowing more about why they made their decision, it does set a dangerous precedent,” said Warner. NPPC said “no options are off the table” in trying to reverse the prison decision, suggesting a possible legal challenge.