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Obama does quick U-turn on prison pork removal

Douglas Ernst

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Oct. 16, 2015

The Obama administration did a rapid U-turn on its decision to remove pork products from federal prisons after a few questions from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

The federal Bureau of Prisons’ reversal of the Oct. 1 menu change comes just one week after its spokesman, Edmond Ross, said pork was the “lowest-rated” food among inmates.

“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,” the Republican senator wrote to the agency on Thursday, the Washington Post reported. “Please provide any economic evaluations the Bureau of Prisons has relied on that detail the cost of pork as compared to beef, chicken, and non-meat products such as tofu and soy products.”

Pig products were back on the menu within hours of the letter’s publication.

Grassley also happens to be the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the federal prison system.

Ross had no answers for the newspaper when asked to describe the policy shift.

“I’m not cleared to say anything and I don’t have answers for you,” Ross said.

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, applauded the original decision to pull pork products from federal prisons, but insisted it did not pressure officials on the issue.

Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, was incredulous when he spoke to the Post Oct. 9, saying, “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.’”

The federal Bureau of Prisons oversees roughly 200,000 inmates.

The federal Bureau of Prisons quickly reversed its decision not to serve roughly 200,000 inmates pork products after questioning from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa (Image: Southern California Public Radio)

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