Just one week after the federal Bureau of Prisons banned pork products from its 122 prisons, pork roast will return to the dinner lines, officials said Friday.
The reversal came just hours after Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who represents the farm-strong state of Iowa, wrote to complain about the decision.
"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 wrote to Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr., reports The Washington Post, complaining that the "unprecedented" decision to take away pork could harm Americans employed in the industry.
Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees federal prisons, and said he was skeptical of claims made by a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons, who said a survey showed pork was the inmates' lowest-rated food.
Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the prison bureau, said that during the past two years, bacon, pork chops, and sausage had been removed from the prison menus, and only one dish, pork roast, had remained, and will now come back.
He said the growing cost of pork also led to the decision to remove pork roast from the prison menus.
The pork industry complained about the ban, but the chicken and beef industries were happy.
Meanwhile, Muslims said they were worried that they'd be blamed for pressuring the government to enact the ban.
Ross would not say why the federal prison system changed its decision, telling reporters he was not cleared to answer questions on the issue.
Grassley, in his letter, demanded copies of prisoner surveys used in the decision to ban pork and wanted details about the cost of pork when compared to other meats or meat substitutes, such as tofu.
The National Pork Producers Council, which represents the nation’s hog farmers, had pledged last week to fight the ban.
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