Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce is a spicy Thai-style hot sauce produced by Huy Fong Foods founder David Tran, and has been America’s most famous sriracha since the 1980s, rivaling soy sauce as the nation’s favorite Asian-influenced condiment.
Lay’s debuted sriracha potato chips, and Subway launched a Fiery Footlong menu featuring sriracha chicken and sriracha steak melts.
Just how hot is Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, you ask? So hot that residents near the factory where the hot sauce is produced complained of the fumes.
Huy Fong Foods makes their Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce in Irwindale, California, where the city of Irwindale attempted to halt production of the condiment because residents complained the fumes from the factory caused them to suffer from irritated eyes, throats, headaches, heartburn, inflamed asthma and even nosebleeds.
A judge ruled the factory could remain open pending another hearing in late November. Last week, The Los Angeles Times reported that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered the Sriracha hot sauce plant to partially shut down in response to the complaints.
Judge Robert H. O’Brien ruled in favor of the city and ordered Huy Fong Foods to cease any kind of operations that could be causing the odors and make immediate changes. The injunction does not order the company to stop operating completely, nor did the injunction specify the types of actions required.
The judge acknowledged there was a “lack of credible evidence” linking any health problems to the odor, but said the odor appears to be “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance.”
He also wrote that the odor could be “reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility,” and determined that the city is “likely to prevail” in declaring the odor a public nuisance, according to the ruling.
The city of Irwindale was pleased with the judge’s decision. “We believe it’s a strong ruling that acknowledges and is reflective of the concerns that the community has raised about the health impacts of the odor,” said City Atty. Fred Galante.
The Times notes there’s confusion as to what the ruling means for next year’s supply of Sriracha hot sauce. The factory harvests and grinds chilis for three months out of the year, and the grinding of this year’s chilis has been completed.
Galante said it was not the city’s intention to stop production of the sauce. “We’re going to try to keep having a conversation with Huy Fong and working out some collaborative way to test and make sure the odor problems are addressed,” he said.