November 28, 2013
Hot Sauce Maker Extinguished Due To Offensive Odors, Health Threats
Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
For any fan of pho or spicy Thai dishes, your favorites may soon seem a little lacking. This is because an Irwindale, California-based hot sauce producer has been ordered to cease operations by the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Judge Robert O’Brien ruled that Huy Fong Foods’ Irwindale facility, which has been sued by the city for its offensive fumes, must stop making foods that include those unpleasant odors.
Huy Fong Foods produces the popular Sriracha hot sauce, known by its clear bottle with the green top and trademarked rooster logo. And the locally grown jalapeño peppers they use to produce the sauce, some 100 million pounds per year, is thought to be the cause of the noxious fumes that residents claim has stricken them with eye and throat problems, heartburn, asthma and even nose bleeds.
As the lawsuit moves forward, it is important to note that Judge O’Brien stopped short of shuttering the plant entirely and only ruled that production of products that produce odors that are “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses” are subject to this injunctive ruling.
Fred Galante, City Attorney for Irwindale, where the plant is located, called the injunction “a strong ruling that acknowledges and is reflective of the concerns that the community has raised about the health impacts of the odor.”
Addressing those health impacts, Judge O’Brien found there was a “lack of credible evidence” in linking the citizen’s health problems to the factory. However, he noted that if the fumes were labeled a public nuisance, the City of Irwindale would likely win their lawsuit with the company.
Also representing the City of Irwindale is attorney Stephen Onstot. Commenting on the ruling he said, “Neither the city, nor the judge, was specific in terms of what has to be done to cease the odors and left how the goal is achieved up to the defendant.”
Founded 33 years ago by David Tran, Huy Fong Foods took in nearly $85M last year alone. Their Sriracha product is fast becoming one of the most popular condiments in the United States. Tran, through his attorney John Tate, said in court the company has installed a filtration system meant to mitigate the odor of the peppers. Tate claimed that while the problem was not completely resolved, the company’s actions had “certainly improved the situation.”
Tran remains steadfast in his defense of the chili peppers used in his popular sauce, claiming they are the sole reason his sauce is of the quality it is. “If it doesn’t smell, we can’t sell. If the city shuts us down, the price of Sriracha will jump a lot.”
The great pepper war of southern California is far from over. The trial is not expected to commence for at least another few months.