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Veggie Loaf Prison Food.jpg
A serving of Nutraloaf
Alternative names Prison loaf, disciplinary loaf, food loaf, lockup loaf, confinement loaf, seg loaf, grue, special management meal, vomit loaf, punishment loaf
Type Meal
Course Main
Place of origin United States, Canada
Serving temperature Hot
Variations n/a
Cookbook: Nutraloaf  Media: Nutraloaf

Nutraloaf (also known as prison loaf, disciplinary loaf, food loaf, lockup loaf, confinement loaf, seg loaf, grue or special management meal)[1] is a food served in prisons in the United States and Canada to inmates who have misbehaved; for example, assaulting prison guards or fellow prisoners.[2] It is similar to meatloaf in texture, but has a wider variety of ingredients. Prison loaf is usually bland, perhaps even unpleasant, but prison wardens argue that nutraloaf provides enough nutrition to keep prisoners healthy without requiring utensils to be issued.[3]


There are many recipes which include a range of food, from vegetables, fruit, meat, and bread or other grains. The ingredients are blended and baked into a solid loaf. In one version, it is made from a mixture of ingredients that include ground beef, vegetables, beans, and bread crumbs. Other versions include mechanically separated poultry and "dairy blend".[4]

Legal challenges[edit]

Although nutraloaf can be found in many United States prisons, its use is controversial. It was mentioned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978 in Hutto v. Finney while ruling that conditions in the Arkansas penal system constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners were fed "grue", described as "a substance created by mashing meat, potatoes, oleo[margarine], syrup, vegetables, eggs, and seasoning into a paste and baking the mixture in a pan". The majority decision delivered by Justice Stevens upheld an order from the 8th Circuit Court that the grue diet be discontinued.[5]

The standards of the American Correctional Association, which accredits prisons, discourage the use of food as a disciplinary measure, but adherence to the organization's food standards is voluntary.[6][7] Denying inmates food as punishment has been found to be unconstitutional by the courts,[8] but because the loaf is generally nutritionally complete, it is sometimes justified as a "dietary adjustment" rather than a denial of proper meals.[6]

Lawsuits regarding nutraloaf have taken place in several states, including Illinois,[9] Maryland, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia.[2] In March 2008, prisoners brought their case before the Vermont Supreme Court, arguing that since Vermont state law does not allow food to be used as punishment, nutraloaf must be removed from the menu.[10] The Vermont Supreme Court held that Nutraloaf and water diet constitutes punishment as it was designed to be unappetizing and as such compelled their conclusion.[11] In April 2010, sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona won a federal judgment in favor of the constitutionality of nutraloaf.[12] In December 2015, New York State decided to discontinue the use of Nutraloaf throughout prisons statewide.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Florida Administrative Code Rule 33-602.223
  2. ^ a b Greenwood, Arin (2008-06-24). "Taste-Testing Nutraloaf: The prison food that just might be unconstitutionally bad.". Slate. 
  3. ^ "Food for Thought: Is Nutraloaf Punishment?". WCAX-TV News. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  5. ^ Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 10 (U.S. 1978) (“A filthy, overcrowded cell and a diet of 'grue' might be tolerable for a few days and intolerably cruel for weeks or months.”).
  6. ^ a b "What's Worse Than Solitary Confinement? Just Taste This". New York Times. 2002-08-04. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  7. ^ Gay, Malcolm (2008-03-19). "Cruel and unusual punishment: Malcolm sentences himself to Prison Loaf". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  8. ^ "Prisoner Diet Legal Issues" (PDF). AELE (Americans for Effective Law Enforcement) Law Journal. July 2007. 
  9. ^ Arnett v. Snyder, 331 Ill. App. 3d 518 (2001)
  10. ^ "Vermont inmates call food foul, sue over it". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  11. ^ "Vermont Supreme Court: 'Nutraloaf' Diet Is Punishment That Requires Hearing". Prison Legal News. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  12. ^ "Arpaio Wins Summary Judgment in Federal Court" (PDF). MCSO. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  13. ^ "New York Prisons Take an Unsavory Punishment Off the Table". 

External links[edit]