From the Department of “Where the Heck Did This Come From?

As of this week there’s going to be a change coming to the cafeteria menu at our nation’s federal prisons. There will no longer be pork chops, ham or … bacon (!) being served once the new rules go into effect. Apparently this story did not come from The Onion. (Fox News)

Inmates will no longer be pigging out on ham or bacon after the Obama administration removed pig products from federal prison menus, in a sudden move being decried by the pork industry.

The federal Bureau of Prisons, responsible for over 200,000 inmates, reportedly imposed the ham ban at the beginning of the month and said it was in response to surveys of prisoners’ food preferences. According to the government, pork just wasn’t a popular menu item.

“Why keep pushing food that people don’t want to eat?” Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the prison bureau, told The Washington Post. “Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years.”

If you find yourself being a bit skeptical upon reading that last bit, join the club. You can offer all manner of explanations for why certain menu changes are made at a public facility, but so you seriously expect us to believe that the prisoners don’t like bacon? Who doesn’t like ham unless it’s for religious reasons? Speaking of which, there are already rumors flying as to possible alternative explanations here.

Could it have been in response to pressure to not serve pork products which might offend Muslim inmates? Or on the other side of the coin, Jewish inmates? That’s being denied from CAIR up and down.

However, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that while they welcomed the move, they were not behind it.

“It helps with the religious accommodation of Muslim and Jewish inmates who don’t eat pork,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, told FoxNews.com.

However, Hooper dismissed concerns that Islamic pressure groups had anything to do with the move, saying that while it had always pushed for halal exemptions for Muslim inmates, they have no reason to push for pork being denied to non-Muslim prisoners.

“We’ve never requested that the Bureau of Prisons remove pork from all of its menus. We would have no reason to,” Hooper said.

The “be sensitive to Muslims” angle doesn’t sit very well with me. I could see some people wanting it for that reason, but it’s too much of a leap for me to think that the government would be on board. Is there some issue between the pork industry and Washington that we’ve not heard about before? If so, that would be a ham handed way to punish them, if you’ll pardon the pun. I also can’t imagine it being for some trumped up healthy eating initiative either. Sure, bacon isn’t the most heart healthy thing on the menu but the prisons will still be serving cheeseburgers and chicken fingers. It’s not like they’re going with all salads and vegetable soup.

Put in your own guesses in the comments section. I haven’t a clue on this one.