No bacon for you: The US federal prison system takes pork off the menu

Cruel and unusual punishment for bacon lovers.
Cruel and unusual punishment for bacon lovers.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
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Inmates at federal prisons will no longer have the option of getting a side of bacon with their breakfast. The US Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has pulled pork off of its national menu for fiscal year 2016, which started Oct. 1.

The decision was based on an annual survey of inmates, according to the agency. “Year after year the most disliked item menu was pork,” BOP spokesperson Dana Williams told Quartz.

Pork is forbidden by Islam and Judaism, and in 2011 Ohio removed pork from its prison system after a lawsuit from a Muslim inmate death row inmate. But Williams said the decision had nothing to do with religious considerations. ”We try to be good stewards of government money. We don’t want to be wasteful,” she said

Pork producers are skeptical that inmates were really so unhappy with pork. “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,” Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, told The Star Telegram newspaper, which first reported the BOP decision. “I do find it hard to believe that the majority would say ‘No thank you to bacon,’” Warner added.

Prisoners will still be able to purchase pork items such as pork rinds or a packaged bacon product from prison commissaries. And turkey bacon will still be served.

The menus for federal prisons, which have more than 200,000 inmates, are set nationally; at state and local prisons, it varies by facility. The Marshall Project reported earlier this year that in some facilities, inmates are essentially starving as they only receive two meals a day, costing as little as $0.56 each.