The Federal Bureau of Prisons may have bitten off more than it could chew by banning pork from prison menus earlier this month -- and apparently has reversed course on the decision.
After the bureau drew complaints from the American pork industry and most recently from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley for the ban, the senator's office tells FoxNews.com that the bureau informed them they're backing off the decision and returning pork to the menu.
Grassley issued a statement later Friday afternoon praising the move while saying he still has concerns: "The decision by the Bureau of Prisons to completely remove pork from its menus was ham-handed at best. I appreciate the quick decision after my letter to the bureau to keep pork products on prison menus. ... But, there are still questions about how the original determination was made and the cost of conducting the surveys."
The bureau has not responded to a request for comment. It's unclear what exactly prompted the reversal, and whether pork will still be served on just a limited basis.
The Washington Post, which first reported on the reversal, said the bureau has only agreed to bring pork roast back to the menu -- reportedly the only pork dish served to prisoners after other pig products were recently phased out.
The Bureau of Prisons, responsible for over 200,000 inmates, has claimed that it was phasing out pork because surveys of prisoners' food preferences showed it wasn't a very popular menu item. Plus they blamed the cost of pork, moving to impose a total ban at the beginning of the month.
But the pork industry had a hard time stomaching the idea that even prisoners don't want their bacon fix.
"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 earlier this week.
The baby-back backlash escalated as Grassley, Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, fired off a letter to Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels expressing "concerns" about the decision and questioning the survey process that supposedly showed pork was low-rated among prisoners.
"To corroborate the validity of the claim that prisoners indicated a lack of interest in pork products, I am requesting copies of the prisoner surveys and responses that were used to support the determination to no longer serve pork in federal prisons," Grassley wrote.
He went on to illustrate the economic importance of pork in America.
"The United States produces upwards of 92 percent of its own pork. Alternative products may be more likely to be imported. The pork industry is responsible for 547,800 jobs, which creates $22.3 billion in personal incomes and contributes $39 billion to the gross domestic product," he wrote. "... This unprecedented decision to remove pork from all federal prisons will have consequences on the livelihoods of American citizens who work in the pork industry."
The original decision also stirred speculation as to whether Muslim or Jewish dietary restrictions had anything to do with it.
However, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations told FoxNews.com earlier this week that while they welcomed the ban, they did not request it.
FoxNews.com's Judson Berger and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.