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List shows hundreds of restaurants received suspect beef

SACRAMENTO Calif. California state officials have released a list of nearly 3,000 restaurants and businesses that may have received beef that was recalled two weeks ago by the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., but distributors indicated that some of the restaurants could have been included in error.

Hundreds of restaurants, including units of national and regional chains like Hooter’s, Sizzler, Big Boy, Marie Callender’s and Norm’s, were among those listed as having received beef from the Chino, Calif., slaughterhouse, whose animal-handling practices triggered the largest beef recall in U.S. history. The 143 million pounds of meat, processed over a two-year period, were recalled because some of the cows from which it came were not always subjected to a final safeguard against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease. Federal officials, who say most of the beef has already been eaten, characterized the risk to the public as “negligible.”

Under federal rules, retailers of recalled products are not revealed, but a California law enacted last year allows the state Department of Public Health to reveal the names of businesses that may be selling the food in question. A partial list involved in the Westland/Hallmark Meat recall is available on the department’s website at

Some food distributors, however, said they gave state officials their entire customer list rather than a roster of the restaurants that purchased the recalled beef.

Shortly before the recall, the Jack in the Box and In-N-Out Burger chains announced that they would no longer use meat from the plant because of concerns that animals at the plant were inhumanely handled. The meat was also believed to have gone to hundreds of school districts across the country.

The situation at the plant came to light after an animal rights group secretly videotaped workers using electric prods and forklifts to force cows to their feet when they could no longer walk. Under federal rules, so-called “downer” beef cannot be used for food because they carry a greater risk of mad-cow contamination. After an investigation was begun by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the plant was shut, two employees were indicted for animal cruelty and the facility issued the voluntary recall.

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