FACT CHECK:   Are workplaces banning ham, sausages, and other pork foods because Muslims are offended by them?

Claim:   Workplaces are banning ham, sausages, and other pork foods because Muslims are offended by them.

  FALSE

Example:   [Collected via e-mail and Twitter, October 2015]

Ham Sandwiches And Sausage Rolls May Be Banned From Office Kitchens For Being ‘Offensive’

New guidelines proposed by interfaith group CoExist House say that employers should consider worker’s religions before allowing ham sandwiches placed in the fridge alongside other products

Origins:   On 5 October 2015, Yahoo! UK several articles that vaguely claimed offices and other workplaces would soon be “banning” ham and related pork products because Muslims find those foods offensive. One of those articles stated that “Kitchens that are shared between office workers may soon be banned from storing pork products like sausage rolls over fears that they are ‘offensive.'”

While those articles were published primarily on British web sites, U.S. readers angrily opined in comments sections that the purported move was un-American:

Tell the stinking Muslims to get a grip. THIS IS AMERICA B—H! I will eat all the pork I want and let one of them try and stop me. Any company in America that trys to tell its employees not to bring pork into the workplace because it offends a Muslim needs to be sued. Did we beg the Muslims to come here? No, they asked to come here, and now they need to adjust their views to the American customs and traditions, or go away.

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I don’t give a dang about no Muslim being offended in my country.. What is next? Will restaurants stop serving sausage, pork chops and bacon? Will delis stop selling ham sandwiches and ham lunchmeat? Will supermarkets stop selling pork. All because some muslim might be offended. This is American go back to your .country and live the way you want to live and eat the way you want Think I’ll order a pizza with sausage, bacon and ham on it for dinner tonight.

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This is just ridiculous. America has become so PC that you cant say or do anything without offfending someone.

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This is just one article of many that is pushing the Islamic religion. Islam is coming in a big wave thanks to the politically correctness fever that is sweeping American and the rest of the world.

It appeared the unpopular concept of a “ban” on pork-based foods in workplaces was introduced by outlets such as Yahoo! UK and the Mirror, which carried a 5 October 2015 article titled “Call to Ban ‘Offensive’ Sausage Rolls and Ham Sandwiches from Office Kitchens.” Several of the articles referenced a 4 October 2015 Sunday Times article which reported that:

Companies need to consider whether to permit staff to heat up sausage rolls in communal microwaves or keep bacon rolls in fridges, according to the author of new guidelines to help firms avoid upsetting people of other faiths or beliefs … Adam Dinham, professor of faith and public policy at Goldsmiths, University of London, who has drawn up a religious literacy programme to be unveiled this week, said: “We have lost the ability to talk about religious belief because of a century of secular assumptions, and most religious belief is either highly visible and we don’t recognise it, or it’s invisible and we miss it entirely.”

However, a 5 October 2015 article published by the Independent titled “‘Don’t Microwave Sausage Rolls’: New Guidelines Issued on What Not to Do in Work Kitchens” presented the issue in a far less polarizing fashion:

A new guideline on etiquette for communal work kitchens is to be suggested to employers.

The advice … stipulates that employees should be careful of the kinds of foods prepared in communal kitchens in case it upsets colleagues of certain faiths … Professor Adam Dinham suggests not microwaving sausage rolls in a shared kitchen space. He also advises that you should not keep bacon, or bacon rolls, in the fridge if it is shared with people whose beliefs prohibit them from eating pork.

The programme was commissioned by inter-faith group CoExist House and is set to be presented to employers by EY, an Nprofessionals services firm.

As the excerpt above clarified, the purported “ban” in actuality merely referenced new voluntary guidelines proposed by London-based interfaith group Coexist House. Not only were details of the guidelines not provided for review (calling into question whether they even strongly emphasized sensitivity to Muslims over other faiths), but even the nebulous description provided of them in no way described any form of “ban.” No government agency in the U.S. or UK had a hand in the development of whatever the guidelines contained, nor was any individual or workplace in any way obliged to abide by them.

The rumor about workplace pork bans is one of several that leans on the specter of “offended Muslims” imposing their faith’s tenets or conventions upon Westerners in the United States and Europe (despite the fact such claims are rarely rooted in the tiniest bit of fact). Prior to the rumor’s appearance, social media were entranced by a video inaccurately described as depicting Muslim teens beating a Dutch girl because of her immodest dress, a viral distortion that claimed KFC “banned hand wipes” because they violated Islamic belief; a Daily Mail piece that duped social media users into claiming Muslims had tried to dig up someone’s grandfather, a popular rumor holding that Muslim nurses were exempt from washing their hands in clinical settings, one other that suggested “pork” and related words were harangued out of the dictionary by Islam’s adherents, and yet another positing that schoolchildren would no longer learn about the Holocaust because those lessons were offensive to Muslims.

As with the earlier rumors, the workplace pork ban was based upon snowballing outrage in response to the interfaith-promoting suggestions of one man stationed with one interfaith organization in one city (in the UK, not the United States). Those guidelines appeared to have been drafted as part of a project to simplify religious diversity in the workplace, and in no meaningful way constituted a bank on pork products in British (or American) offices.

Last updated:   5 October 2015

Originally published:   5 October 2015