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Suspect beef may have been sent here

Beef from cattle shown on video being dragged by forklifts and other methods described as inhumane was likely shipped to several area schools, officials announced Thursday.

Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Pine Island and Zumbrota school districts all likely received the beef from Westland Hallmark Meat Co., according to the Minnesota Department of Education. A total of 375 Minnesota schools and districts were on the list.

According to a department news release, no instances of illness were reported in connection to the beef and there is no other evidence the beef represents an increased health risk.

Meat from the plant has been placed on hold by the federal government since Jan. 30, the same day the U.S. Department of Agriculture indefinitely suspended Westland's meat products from the National School Lunch Program.

Westland halted operations Feb. 1 after allegations surfaced that cattle at its California facilities were being sent to slaughter under inhumane conditions.

Undercover video released by the Humane Society of the United States shows "downer" cows -- those unable to walk -- being skidded and dragged through a processing plant.

Cannon Falls and Kenyon-Wanamingo were among 120 Minnesota districts identified by the state that had unused meat as of Thursday. Those districts have been contacted by the state and instructed how to isolate the product.

About 15,500 pounds of Westland beef sent to Minnesota was sent as processed meat products, including beef crumbles and hamburger patties, according to the state.

Most of the Westland beef sent to Minnesota was likely served to students before the USDA issued its advisory warning earlier this week.

Based on state research, one-third of the 240,000 pounds of Westland's raw beef that has not been used is isolated.

The USDA will determine what should be done with the meat that hasn't been used.