Sriracha Factory Troubled By Spicy Air

This news might encourage students taking online culinary classes to come up with a spicy sauce of their own. The Asian hot sauce Sriracha is getting some heat from citizens of Irwindale, Calif. The Vietnamese sauce, made by Huy Fong Foods, is distributed by a factory located nearby Irwindale’s residential area.

The city filed a suit against Huy Fong Foods, claiming that citizens are suffering from headaches, burning eyes, irritated skin and itchy throats because of alleged offensive odors emanating from the factory. Citizens are demanding that the factory shut down and attend to this issue before reopening.

David Tran, creator of Sriracha and CEO of Huy Fong Foods, believes that such a drastic measure will have serious consequences for his business.

“If the city shuts us down, the price of Sriracha will jump up a lot,” says Tran.

The Sriracha factory takes in the bulk of its chili​es over a three-month period. More than 100 millions are peppers enter the plant each year, and as they are processed, particles are vacuumed up into a carbon-based filtration system that breaks down the harsh vapors before releasing them into the air. Various solutions have been suggested, none of which appealed to Tran. Irwindale residents thought that a $600,000 filtration system, built to burn the vapors, would be enough to stop the odors. Huy Fong Foods’ director of operations, Adam Holiday, said the company passed on that idea.

“Burning the pepper air just didn’t seem safer,” Holliday said. “Maybe we didn’t move fast enough, but it’s a big business expense and we want to make sure it’s the right investment.”

Irwindale is not the first community to play host to a Sriracha plant. Before Huy Fong Foods relocated their operation to Irwindale, two factories were running in Rosemead, about 12 miles away from Irwindale​, since the early 1980s without any complaint or failed inspections.

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