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California town moves against Sriracha hot sauce plant

Sriracha Factory Declared Public Nuisance

(Reuters) - The small Southern California town of Irwindale has opened a new front in its battle against what it says is a pungent, tear-inducing odor from a chili processing factory owned by the makers of Sriracha-brand hot pepper sauce.

The City Council voted 4-0 at a meeting on Wednesday night to authorize staff to prepare a resolution to declare the plant's peppery fumes a public nuisance, and giving Huy Fong Foods 90 days to remedy the situation.

A fifth council member who lives within 500 feet of the plant abstained to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The council is expected to vote on the resolution at its next hearing on April 23, according to a spokeswoman for the city manager's office who confirmed the vote.

Huy Fong's red-colored Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, sold in clear squeeze bottles with a green cap and trademark rooster logo, is one the top-selling condiments in the United States.

Celebrated as the ingredient of the year in 2010 by Bon Appetit magazine, the sauce has inspired cookbooks, a food festival, a movie documentary and even a potato chip flavor.

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.

The company said it was disappointed with the City Council action and would continue to work with the Air Quality Management District on the matter.

"But at the end, we believe the city will do what they wish to do regardless," the company said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Dana Feldman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
heydoode1 April 12 2014 at 6:39 PM

Jeez .. I thought they stopped production months ago. We were unable to find Sriracha
anywhere in San Diego in January .. except by east coast manufacturers.

I bought my son a Sriracha cookbook for his birthday. Hmmm, I want to get it back and
create some of the recipes.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Jose.Segovia April 12 2014 at 4:37 PM

Move to San Antonio Texas....

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1 reply
evilvaquero Jose.Segovia April 12 2014 at 8:50 PM

Thats right. move to Texas....the Gov will welcome you with open arms.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
flyboy1423g April 12 2014 at 9:06 PM

Move the operation to Texas, you'll be welcome here.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
mbrheljr April 12 2014 at 3:47 PM

I'm familiar with this scuffle only from media accounts and don't know the area's history well enough to know if the pepper plant or complaining parties were there first.

In one of my law school Torts classes, we learned about a legal concept called "coming to the nuisance."

For example, if I move right next door to a noisy airport and start whining about the noise, the airport's legal defense would be "coming to the nuisance."

In other words, they'd try to prove I knew or should have reasonably known that moving next to a noisy airport would understandably provide noise.

On the other hand, if I lived in a quiet, rural area and someone bought up all the land around me and built a noisy airport, such a case would likely have a different outcome.

Therefore, that should be there tale of the tape here...

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1 reply
sprtfishr mbrheljr April 12 2014 at 4:22 PM

I'm pretty sure that the co. built a new factory with the cities blessing originally.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
montbridge19 April 12 2014 at 9:07 PM

please, Huy Fong come to Texas

Flag Reply +4 rate up
hacaliguysf April 12 2014 at 9:36 PM

The people that are complaining are the ones that did not get a job there. Time to move to a city that will gladly accept the taxes and business.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Mike April 12 2014 at 9:55 PM

I guess we should close all the paper plants in the US sinc eht e smell from those extend miles and miles from the source. The city will probably begin an Emminent Domain lawsuit and build a parking lot so they can put people out of work and please 70 people. People need to get a grip. I grew up near Chillicothe Ohio and well remember the Mead Paper Plant. It was very pungent from miles away. But to me it smelled like folks working and making a living for their families. I love their Sauce and would hate to have it have to close due to a few folks who don't like the smell. Then we'll be closing Airports because they're noisy. Sanitation Plants because they don't smell particularly good either. Think folks, Think! Sriracha Folks, if they throw you out, come to Atlanta, We'll welcome you. We need the jobs here and we'd get the Sauce a little cheaper since we won't have to pay the excess shipping.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
richyalf April 12 2014 at 10:07 PM

Please resolve thus issue ASAP, I am addicted to this stuff and do not want to go through some kind of traumatic withdrawal

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Richard April 12 2014 at 10:10 PM

Hey! Hu Fong move on down to Texas -- we love peppers!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Pantino4 April 12 2014 at 10:11 PM

work it through...........

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