Company Recalls 96,000 Pounds of Beef

COAL VALLEY, Ill. (AP) - A northwestern Illinois meatpacker is recalling nearly 96,000 pounds of its ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli.

Officials say a recall was initiated after three people fell sick from E. coli in the Cleveland area, and that related illnesses have been reported in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday that meat from Valley Meats LLC of Coal Valley was linked to the Ohio infections.

The USDA said the beef was produced in March and distributed in 10-pound to 40-pound packages, sold under brand names including Grillmaster, J&B, Thick 'N Savory, 3S, Klub and Ultimate.

All of the recalled beef products bear the establishment number "EST. 5712" inside the USDA's inspection mark.

The Ohio Department of Health alerted federal officials last week that a 3-year-old girl, a 24-year-old man and a 71-year-old man were ill from E. coli bacteria with the same genetic fingerprint.

Kristopher Weiss, a spokesman for that department, says two of the three were hospitalized and all are now recovered.

A message left Friday by The Associated Press with Valley Meats was not immediately returned.

E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and people with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to food-borne illness.

Consumers with questions can contact the company at 309-799-7341.

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