Inmates will no longer be pigging out on ham or bacon after the Obama administration removed pig products from federal prison menus, in a sudden move being decried by the pork industry.
The federal Bureau of Prisons, responsible for over 200,000 inmates, reportedly imposed the ham ban at the beginning of the month and said it was in response to surveys of prisoners' food preferences. According to the government, pork just wasn't a popular menu item.
“Why keep pushing food that people don’t want to eat?” Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the prison bureau, told The Washington Post. “Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years.”
But the pork industry has an obvious retort: Seriously, who doesn't like bacon?
"We find it hard to believe that a survey would have found a majority of any population saying, ‘No thanks, I don’t want any bacon,’" a spokesperson for The National Pork Producers Council told FoxNews.com in a statement. "For people who are incarcerated, we understand that they’re denied certain rights and freedoms but we don’t think bacon should be one of them."
In terms of responding to the move, the NPPC would not rule out legal action.
"We find it hard to believe that a survey would have found a majority of any population saying, ‘No thanks, I don’t want any bacon.’"
- Spokesperson for the NPPC
"We’re going to find out how this came about and go from there. We wouldn’t rule out any options to resolve this," the spokesperson said.
The NPPC says 547,800 jobs are involved in various aspects of the pork industry, creating an estimated $22.3 billion in personal incomes 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 said.
The federal move is not without precedent. Residents of the Tarrant County jail in Fort Worth, Texas haven’t been served pork in years, The Star-Telegram reported. A spokesman said that the decision was made to be sure that inmates’ medical and religious convictions were not violated.