ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Education has ordered school districts in the state to stop serving beef supplied by a California slaughterhouse that has been accused of abusing animals.

Georgia Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox told the Associated Press that 28 districts so far have pulled the meat after the U.S. Department of Agriculture alerted state officials that it could be tainted. She said officials won't know for sure whether the meat was tainted until February 19 when federal authorities finish their investigation into the Chino, California,-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Company.

Federal officials are looking into whether the slaughterhouse shipped meat from disabled animals known as "downer" cows because they are considered too sick or injured to walk, the news service reported. Federal regulations call for keeping downer cows out of the food supply because they may pose a higher risk of E. coli, salmonella contamination or mad cow disease.

The facility is a major supplier to a USDA program that distributes beef through the National School Lunch Program, according to the AP.