Irwindale, California, tried to shutter the hot sauce maker after residents complained. Could a shortage follow?
Update (10/31): A judge ruled today that Huy Fong Foods' Irwindale factory can continue production -- at least until November 22, when an additional hearing will decide if the facility needs to shutdown while it fixes the alleged odor problems. But by then, the factory will have finished processing all the peppers it needs for the next year. In short -- your Sriracha supply is safe for now.
Uh oh ... Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods is in trouble.
Apparently, the hot sauce odor wafting from the company's Irwindale, California, factory has nearby residents complaining of burning eyes, irritated throats, and headaches. The strong smell forced one family to move a birthday party indoors, and some residents had to leave their homes temporarily.
Now, Irwindale is suing. In a complaint filed to the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, the city requested that Huy Fong Foods suspend Sriracha production until the problem is fixed. The city reportedly met with the company earlier this month, and Huy Fong agreed to take action. They've since changed their tune, denying the problem and arguing that employees working at the plant have never complained.
A lot could be at stake. Roberto Ferdman at Quartz paints a chilling picture of hot sauce apocalypse:
The company uses only fresh chilies to make Sriracha, which means it has to process them within a day of picking. And all of over 100 million pounds of chilies it uses each year are harvested and processed in a two to three-month period in the fall, which is right about now. So any setback could hit its production for the entire year.
Los Angeles Times reporter Frank Shyong has been live-tweeting his tour of the Huy Fong Foods headquarters today -- including this alarming bit from the company's CEO David Tran.
David Tran says that if the city shuts the factory down, the price of Sriracha will jump up. Supplies of Sriracha are lagging behind demand.— Frank Shyong (@frankshyong) October 29, 2013
A judge is set to review the complaint on Thursday. In the meantime, Irwindale, California, is on its way to becoming internet's least favorite city.
The folks in this town need to suck it up, the rest of us love Sriracha http://t.co/CDX0ETcP06— Ed Waters (@DoctorZaius68) October 29, 2013
I swear, if Irwindale shuts down the Sriracha factory, I will chain myself to the steps of their city hall and sing spicy protest songs.— L. Morguetensen (@LMortensen) October 29, 2013
I swear to God, Irwindale, if you shut down the Sriracha factory I'm coming for you. http://t.co/onFwfp5Cp3— HELLRAISER (@delrayser) October 29, 2013
The city of Irwindale, California must be stopped. Who's with me! http://t.co/TjxMVpVdst— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) October 29, 2013
Top image: reed_sandridge on Flickr