Bad news for lovers of Sriracha sauce. A Los Angeles County court has ordered the maker of the iconic chili sauce to partially cease operations until it can get the allegedly eye-watering, heartburn-inducing odors its plant produces under control. The city of Irwindale sued Huy Fong Foods after residents living near a major Sriracha plant complained that spicy smells were giving them runny noses, headaches, and in one case, more nosebleeds.
Huy Fong says that its own workers have never complained about being close to the production of the sauce, made from jalapeño peppers, vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic. As we reported in October when the lawsuit was first filed, the move could pose a problem for supplies of Sriracha.
Because Huy Fong only uses fresh chilies that need to be processed within a day of being picked, the company processes all of the over 100 million plus pounds of chilies it uses during a two to three month window in the fall, as the chilies ripen. A partial shutdown of its 665,000-square-foot (about 61,780 square meters) plant in Irwindale right now could cripple production for the year ahead, and force Huy Fong to leave chilies to rot.
The company already struggles to meet global demand for its increasingly popular sauce. The Irwindale plant was opened to supplement production from another plant about half its size a few miles away. The company planned to eventually move all production to Irwindale.
The case may still go to trial but city officials say they hope the company and Irwindale can resolve the issue out of court. If the case isn’t resolved soon and Sriracha supplies are affected, David Tran, founder of Huy Fong who says he’s never raised the wholesale price for the sauce in over 30 years of its making, might have to change his mind about that.