Fort Worth

Inmates, industry decry feds pulling pork from menus

Pork chops, along with all other pork products, are no longer on the national menu at Bureau of Prisons facilities.
Pork chops, along with all other pork products, are no longer on the national menu at Bureau of Prisons facilities. AP

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is going whole hog in cutting pork from its menu.

With this month’s start of fiscal year 2016, there will be no bacon, no pork chops, no pork roast, no pork sausage — no pork-related food at all — served to the nation’s 205,723 federal inmates, including those at FCI Fort Worth or FMC Carswell.

While there have been grumblings from some inmates’ family members that the prohibition had to do with Muslim or Jewish dietary restrictions, Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross said that isn’t the case.

A woman whose son is in federal prison in Fort Worth says he has complained about the lack of pork, saying he had heard it was because of complaints from Muslim inmates.

“It was really based on the survey of inmate population as well as cost,” Ross said. “Religious meals are accommodated but that does not affect the national menu.”

205,723 inmates in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities as of Sept. 30.

Dave Warner, a spokesman with the National Pork Producers Council, said pulling pork from the menu is taking the punishment aspect of prison a little too far.

“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,” Warner said.

Warner also questioned whether the pork ban was based on inmate preference, saying he was skeptical that inmates would vote pork off the menu.

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, National Pork Producers Council

“I do find it hard to believe that the majority would say ‘No thank you to bacon,’” Warner said. “I’m not sure cost would really be an issue. Sausage is one of the commodities USDA buys. I know they buy a lot of that for the school lunch program and pork crumbles are used on pizza. The USDA is getting a good product at a very good price.”

A look at the national prison menu for fiscal year 2016 finds hamburger, baked chicken, fish tacos, spaghetti, hummus, and chicken fried rice and tofu fried rice.

Federal inmates who are pork lovers do have one recourse. They can still buy their bacon from the prison commissaries. An FCI Fort Worth spokesman confirmed last week it was still available for purchase.

Federal inmates can still buy pork products from the prison commissaries.

The Bureau of Prisons isn’t alone in prohibiting pork.

Residents of the Tarrant County Jail haven’t been served any pork products since Dee Anderson became sheriff 15 years ago, said spokesman Terry Grisham.

“In our contract with respective food vendors we express that there will be no pork products served,” Grisham said. “Simply, it just makes it easier so we don’t violate any medical or religious diets of any kind.”

The Tarrant County Jail hasn’t served pork since Dee Anderson became sheriff 15 years ago.

But those who are sentenced to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility can still get their pork.

TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said the state prison system has its own pork processing facility at the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony near Palestine.

Among the selections served to inmates are pork links, pork patty mix, pork shoulder and ham.

Bacon, however, is not on the menu.

“Whenever we do have pork, offenders have the option of getting a non-pork tray,” Clark said.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

What’s for lunch, dinner

Federal Bureau of Prisons National Menu for Fiscal Year 2016

Wednesday’s lunch

Hamburger or soy burger, with shredded lettuce and pickles

Whole wheat bun with pat of margarine

Catsup and mustard

French fries or baked potato

Fruit

Beverage

Wednesday’s dinner

Black bean soup

Beef taco salad or soy taco salad

Salsa

Whole wheat bread, with pat of margarine

Beverage

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