Sriracha hot sauce has been declared a public nuisance by the city of Irwindale, California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The city decided Wednesday night to take the action and give the Sriracha factory 90 days to cease the fumes coming from the production of the spicy sauce. The city took the action because it allows officials to make the changes at the factory themselves if the company does not fix the problem.
The city’s decision was made despite a report from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) that the company was working toward rectifying the situation. The attorney for Sriracha’s owner Huy Fong Foods, Inc., John Tate, said Huy Fong was trying to find a long-term solution before June 1. Tate said the decision to file a public nuisance claim was “the city flexing its muscle and thumbing Huy Fong in the eye.”
The battle was joined last October, when Irwindale sued Huy Fong Foods, asking for the company to halt production of the sauce. The city claimed residents near the factory had been upset because the fumes from the grinding of red hot chili peppers were causing headaches, coughing fits, and hurting their eyes.
By November, a judge ordered Huy Fong to stop producing the smell that disturbed the residents, but it was ineffectual because the pepper-grinding season had ended in October.
Huy Fong Foods, which was founded by David Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant, built a $40 million plant in Irwindale two years ago. He started his business in 1980, making his sauce in a bucket; when business soared, he built a plant in Rosemead, then moved to Irwindale.
By 2013 it was amassing $85 million in sales and employing 60 full-time workers and 200 during the pepper-grinding season.