A Sriracha plant near Los Angeles was almost forced to shut down. Residents of nearby Irwindale complained that it emitted a horrible odor and made their eyes burn and water. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
Sriracha lovers across the U.S. breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday when a judge denied a request by the town of Irwindale, Calif., to shut down a nearby Sriracha-producing Huy Fong factory.
The California town east of Los Angeles has been feeling the burn — and not just figuratively — for a while now.
The people of Irwindale say the process to make the red, hot sauce produces a nasty, gaseous smell in the air and makes their eyes burn and water. In 2012, after complaints from residents, the company said it installed carbon filters. This year, it got so bad the town asked a court to shutter the factory, at least until it could come up with a long-term solution, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Given that the plant, at its peak, generates some 200,000 bottles of Sriracha a day, according to Huy Fong Foods’ CEO and founder David Tran — every single one of which it apparently sells, Tran told the Times — it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that a process that produces lip-tingling paste by grinding up chili peppers might generate some unpleasant side effects.
None of that made a difference to Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien. Yesterday, he denied the town’s request to stop operations at the plant until the company could quell the smells, according to the Associated Press. Instead, a hearing was scheduled for the end of this month.
Fears about a Sriracha shortage or a huge price spike can be laid to rest, as least for the time being. It’s hard to know precisely what chain reaction closing the factory would’ve set off, but for now, the sauce is safe.