If you are one of the millions of fans who accompany every meal with a bottle of Sriracha, now may be the time to stock up on the flaming hot condiment. The city of Irwindale, California is suing the Huy Fong Foods plant after they received a number of complaints from neighbors that the odor of chilies emanating from the plant burns their eyes, noses, and throats. If the suit goes through the factory could be shut down until the company finds a solution to their unique air pollution problems.
Huy Fong founder David Tran moved his production facilities from Rosemead to Irwindale after the demand for his mix of jalapeno peppers, garlic, salt, sugar, and vinegar skyrocketed. The new $40 million plant tripled their capacity and made it possible for the privately-owned business to rake in about $60 million in sales last year. The company has brought 60 full-time jobs and 200 seasonal positions to the city of 1,400 people and complies with all air quality regulations.
City officials met with the company early this month to discuss solutions. Huy Fong Foods was not happy with the idea of installing a $600,000 filtration system, and while they were further negotiating, the city sued for the plant to shut down operations. The case will go to court this Thursday.
Irwindale is no stranger to industrial air pollution. They are home to a dog food manufacturer and the MillerCoors brewery, both of which produce offensive odors. While some neighbors enjoy the odor of chilies during the height of the harvest season from August to Early November, the city has received nearly a dozen complaints this month from those who don’t. Likening the experience to pepper spray, many residents avoid going outdoors and keep their children and pets inside.
As Irwindale and Huy Fong Foods work towards a compromise, do not be surprised to see hot sauce junkies rushing to supermarkets for a hit of their favorite searing sauce.