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California city declares Sriracha maker a nuisance

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:55 a.m. HST, Apr 10, 2014

IRWINDALE, Calif. >> A Southern California city has declared the factory that produces the popular Sriracha hot sauce a public nuisance.

The Irwindale City Council's action Wednesday night gives the factory 90 days to make changes to stop the spicy odors that prompted complaints from some residents last fall. Declaring a public nuisance will allow city officials to enter the factory and make changes if the odors persist after the deadline.

The decision came despite testimony by air-quality experts that progress was being made toward a resolution. The South Coast Air Quality Management District said its inspectors have taken air samples inside the plant, and believed the information gathered should allow the factory and the city to resolve their differences.

Attorney John Tate, who represents Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods, Inc., said the company had been working with the AQMD on its filtration system since the complaints first arose and was committed to finding long-term solutions by June 1.

He called the public nuisance declaration a demonstration of "the city flexing its muscle and thumbing Huy Fong in the eye."

A call to Irwindale City Attorney Fred Galante was not immediately returned.

Irwindale sued Huy Fong Foods last October, asking a judge to halt production at the company's factory, saying residents downwind complained that fumes from the grinding of red hot chili peppers was stinging their eyes and giving them headaches and coughing fits.

In November a judge ordered the company to stop producing the annoying odors, but by then the annual pepper-grinding season, which runs from August through October, had ended.

In the meantime, several residents complained that the smell was persisting as Huy Fong Foods workers continued to bottle the popular hot sauce that is a staple in Asian restaurants and homes. Data provided by the AQMD showed the majority of complaints came from four households.

Huy Fong Foods moved to Irwindale two years ago, opening a new $40 million plant in the largely industrial city of 1,400 residents.

The company was founded by Vietnamese immigrant David Tran, who began mixing up his distinctive sauce in a bucket at his home in 1980. As business boomed, he opened a plant in Rosemead, moving to Irwindale when his company outgrew that facility.

He said the privately held company took in about $85 million last year, adding it employs about 200 workers during the pepper-grinding season and 60 year-round.

The flaming hot sauce is contained in distinctive green-tipped bottles, each with a drawing of a rooster on the side.

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AhiPoke wrote:
Hawaii should offer incentives for Huy Fong Foods to move here. 60-200 jobs, plus taxes, would help our economy.
on April 10,2014 | 09:31AM
Lets just ensure they build the plant next to your house. I dont want anything to do with it.
on April 10,2014 | 09:39AM
AhiPoke wrote:
You must be a member of the non-working class or independently rich. I'd have no problem with them locating next to me, especially if they give free samples. Awesome sauce.
on April 10,2014 | 10:00AM
Jerry_D wrote:
Typical left-wing liberal response. They think tax money grows on trees...
on April 10,2014 | 01:57PM
mcc wrote:
Who was there first?
on April 10,2014 | 10:02AM
hilopango wrote:
Complaints from FOUR households in a population of 1,446 and their city council declares the company a nuisance? That's California for you...the land of fruits and nuts. Bring your factory here, you've got lots of fans!
on April 10,2014 | 10:52AM
sailfish1 wrote:
This sriracha sauce isn't even the original sriracha sauce. The original was made in the Thailand city of Si Racha in the1930s and is still made in Thailand.
on April 10,2014 | 12:17PM
Solara wrote:
Other cities have made offers to the factory to move. Hopefully, they do move. It seems somewhat short sighted of Irwindale to declare them a nuisance especially when the majority of complaints come from only 4 residences!
on April 10,2014 | 12:23PM
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