Ruling on Sriracha chili sauce factory raises job worries

AP Photo/Nick Ut

AP Photo/Nick Ut

A judge has ordered a plant that produces the popular Sriracha chili sauce to stop emitting annoying odors — a ruling that left some nearby residents worried about a possible loss of jobs at the factory.

Judge Robert H. O'Brien on Tuesday ruled in favor of the city of Irwindale, where Sriracha recently relocated, saying sauce maker Huy Fong Foods must stop any operations that could be causing the odors and make unspecified changes to mitigate them.

The company had no immediate comment, but a few neighbors interviewed Wednesday dismissed the complaints and worried that jobs might be lost if the plant is forced to close.

“I don't want it shut down because I think a lot of people will lose their jobs,” said Marta Torres, 47. “In two years it has never smelled as much as now, but I think it's OK.”

Torres said the smell wafts into her home late in the day in an area where many of her neighbors like to cook with spices.

“It's something you can deal with,” she said. “It doesn't bother us.”

O'Brien's injunction was issued in response to a lawsuit filed on Oct. 21 by Irwindale. It wasn't immediately known if the food company plans to appeal.

Phone messages left Wednesday by The Associated Press for Huy Fong Foods and its attorney were not immediately returned.

The company has said there is no reason to close the plant now because harvest season and the subsequent grinding of red-hot jalapeno peppers — the key ingredient of the sauce — have passed.

As a result, the injunction might not have an immediate impact on the company's production or the nation's hot sauce supply as Huy Fong continues its year-round mixing and bottling.

The judge acknowledged there was a lack of credible evidence linking complaints of breathing trouble and watery eyes to the factory. But he said for residents the odor that could be reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility is “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance.”

Some residents said living with the smell is bearable.

Randall Acosta, 45, who lives in an apartment complex across the street from the factory, said the scent can be strong sometimes but it makes him hungry.

“Why are people complaining about the chili smell when this is an industrial area?” he asked. “There's burning rubber down the street. There are other dangers in this city.”

The lawsuit could still go to trial, but Irwindale officials would like to see a settlement outside court and do not want to shut down Sriracha altogether, City Attorney Fred Galante told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/17SSD2h).

“We're going to try to keep having a conversation with Huy Fong,” he said, and find a collaborative way to address the odor problem.

CaliforniaCalifornia NewsHuy Fong FoodsLos AngelesSriracha chili sauce

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A sign about proposed development of the bluff at Thornton State Beach in Daly City on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Retreat center proposed at popular state beach

Daly City residents oppose construction on ocean bluffs

Rev. Roland Gordon shows “The Great Cloud of Witnesses” collage mural at the Ingleside Presbyterian Church, which he began building in 1980.<ins> (</ins>
Rev. Roland Gordon preaches love in action

Pastor promotes peace, hope through art and prayer

San Francisco’s Buster Posey was back at the plate after sitting out last season due to the risk of COVID-19. (David Maialetti/Tribune News Service)
Giants struggle against Angels in first game of Spring Training

By Nick Zeller-Singh Nearly 1,000 fans gathered into a breezy Scottsdale Stadium… Continue reading

Basketball (Shutterstock)
SI alum Begovich gets his moment, but Stanford falls on Senior Day

MAPLES PAVILION — Generally speaking, Stanford’s home finale on Saturday afternoon, a… Continue reading

U.S. Attorney David Anderson announces federal firearms charges against two men for their roles in a March 2019 shooting outside the Fillmore Heritage Center in a news conference alongside SFPD staff at the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Departing U.S. attorney predicts corruption probe will continue

David Anderson shook up City Hall as top federal prosecutor

Most Read