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Valley Meats LLC of Coal Valley, Illinois, has recalled more than 96,000 pounds of potentially contaminated ground beef.

The recall was announced after the Department of Agriculture determined that the beef may be contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria.

An outbreak of illness associated with E. coli was initially reported by the Ohio Health Department in early May. Illness has also been linked with Valley Meats ground beef in Illinois and Pennsylvania.

The symptoms of E. coli poisoning include bloody diarrhea, dehydration and kidney failure. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to illness.

E. coli is a common bacterium normally found in humans but some strains such as E. coli 0157:H7 causes food-borne illnesses affecting some 73,000 Americans every year and killing about 61.

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