California’s Sriracha factory officially deemed a public nuisance

The plant has 90 days to control its spicy odor problem

Topics: Food, sriracha, public health, Los Angeles, Hot sauce, ,

Welcome to Irwindale, California: home of Sriracha, and a city besieged by painfully spicy odors emitting from the factory that makes the popular hot sauce.

The Irwindale City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to prepare a resolution declaring the Sriracha factory a public nuisance, giving its operators 90 days to fix the problem. Reuters traces the saga, which has been playing for half a year now:

Irwindale filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong last October saying the strong smell of peppers being crushed at the plant was causing headaches and irritating the eyes and throats of nearby residents, forcing some to remain indoors during the day.

The lawsuit said the company had refused to take corrective action. Huy Fong Foods owner David Tran has said rooftop vent filters at the factory absorb about 90 percent of the chili and garlic odors.

In November, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered the hot sauce maker to cease emissions of the fumes but declined to order the factory closed and was not specific about what Huy Fong should do to control the smell.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has performed tests at the facility but found no violation of air quality standards, said Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the regional agency said.

The air district has suggested carbon filtration as a potential solution. The agency has received some 70 citizen complaints about the plant since November, most from a “handful of households,” Atwood said.



“In the scheme of things, this is not one of those situations where a town is evacuated,” John Tate, attorney for Huy Fong Foods, told ABC News. ”These are basically cooking odors that some people decided to make an issue of.” He added,  ”It’s entirely possible no matter what we do, someone will complain.”

Still, the company says it will be able to fix the problem by June — which means, the L.A. Times assures us, there’s no need to fear a shortage.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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