California city sues over cloud of Sriracha

October 29, 2013

Photo courtesy Huy Fong Foods

Burning eyes? Irritated throats? Headaches? Perhaps you live in Irwindale, Calif., a small suburb of Los Angeles that is suing the makers of Sriracha hot sauce after residents complained of bad air near its plant.

Irwindale officials filed a lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the Los Angeles Times reported, asking a judge to order Huy Fong Foods to stop production of the rooster sauce, charging that the plant is a public nuisance.

The city had been negotiating with the company over how to reduce odors emanating from the plant. But those talks broke down, and the city decided to go to court. Irwindale wants Huy Fong to stop production until it comes up with a plan to mitigate the odor.

About 30 residents have complained to city officials, including one family that had to move a child’s birthday party inside, city attorney Fred Galante told the Times.

Sriracha was first invented in Los Angeles by David Tran, a Vietnam-born Chinese immigrant, in the early 1980s. Today, the company sells about 20 million bottles and generates $60 million in revenue, according to Quartz, making it one of the bigger players in the $1 billion hot sauce market. To make all that sauce, the company processed 100 million pounds of fresh chilies last year.

It’s developed a cult following: Last weekend, the first-ever L.A. Sriracha Festival drew thousands of people. Back in 2011, Bon Appetit produced a roster of the 25 best ways to use Sriracha.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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