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University City seafood store ordered to shut down over contamination risk

"During the investigation, staff observed multiple refrigeration units holding foods above safe temperatures," the health alert reads.

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. — The St. Louis city and county health departments are sending out a warning when it comes to food that shoppers and even restaurant owners may have purchased from a University City supply store. 

Officials say some products were improperly stored, causing a potential health risk. Seafood City is now ordered to shut down.

An empty parking lot is not typical at Seafood City on Olive Boulevard. A “food establishment closed” sign greets people at the front doors, which are locked. The building is now condemned by the Department of Health.

"It is my favorite store for seafood,” said Gustavo Miranda who runs the Mandarin House restaurant.

It is located next door to Seafood City. He buys shrimp and crab meat from there for his business. He had no idea why his favorite supply store is now shut down until 5 On Your Side broke it down to him.

"During the investigation, staff observed multiple refrigeration units holding foods above safe temperatures. There is a risk of foodborne illness when foods that require refrigeration for safety are not held at proper temperature,” an alert from the health department reads.

Julie Mehringer of Webster University understands why the health department took quick action.

"Bacteria can double their numbers in 20, 30 minutes,” she said.

She says that bacteria can easily form when food isn't stored at proper temperatures.

"If you refrigerate food, bacteria particularly will grow very slowly or not at all but when you increase, say to room temperature or to even a little above refrigeration temperature, they can multiply very quickly,” she adds.

Mehringer also says heating up or cooking contaminated food doesn't make it safe.

"I do not like them closed because how I can buy my stuff?" Miranda asked.

He hopes Seafood City can rebound and make things right. He said his business is down from all of the neighboring store's foot traffic now gone.

"I want [them] to open because the customers [can] come back," he said.

The health department says as late as this week, Seafood City was operating without a health permit. 5 On Your Side contacted the store but has not heard back.

Health officials say if you've consumed food from the store, contact your doctor if you feel sick.

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