The Federal Bureau of Prisons has apparently reversed its recent decision to take roast pork off the menu at national prison facilities. After some backlash, the bureau now says it will keep the item on the menu for inmates, the Washington Post reported Friday.
The bureau had decided to be done with the last pork-based item on its menu, roast pork, after a survey found many inmates don’t like the food, but the announcement didn’t sit well with some. The pork industry complained about the decision, as did a senator from Iowa who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, overseeing the nation’s federal prison system.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a letter to Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels Jr. that removing pork from prison menus would hurt the Americans who work in the pork industry. Federal prisons have been phasing out pork-based menu items for years, eliminating bacon, pork chops and pork sausage.
“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,” Grassley said in the letter, according to Fox News.
The bureau did not expressly say why it reversed its decision on pork. Bureau spokesperson Edmond Ross told the Post Thursday he was not cleared to say anything about the decision. The bureau oversees more than 200,000 prisoners in the United States.
The pork industry was also dubious about the findings of a survey that came to the conclusion prisoners didn’t want pork. "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 said earlier this week to Fox News.
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Some groups, however, were happy with the decision to do away with all pork in prison. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it was pleased with the move to eliminate pork as it would help accommodate inmates of different faiths. The group’s spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper also said anti-Islam groups could use the announcement to take pork off federal prison menus to stoke the fire of Islamophobia.