Sriracha sauce production goes on, despite town’s lawsuit

Sriracha sauce production goes on, despite town’s lawsuit

TOO HOT TO HANDLE: A California town says the Sriracha plant is annoying residents. Photo: YouTube

By Dana Feldman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Los Angeles suburb that sued to curb the strong, spicy odor emitted from a chili-processing plant lost its initial bid for a court injunction against the makers of the popular Sriracha-brand hot pepper sauce on Thursday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien denied a motion from the small city of Irwindale for a temporary restraining order against Huy Fong Foods, calling the request “rather edgy.”

“You’re asking for a very radical order on a 24-hour notice,” O’Brien said during the brief proceedings.

The judge instead set a court hearing for November 12 to consider further arguments on whether there were grounds to issue a preliminary injunction against the chili factory while the court reviews the merits of a lawsuit brought against the company.

Irwindale, east of Los Angeles, filed suit on Monday saying the company has refused to take sufficient action to abate noxious fumes emanating from the plant strong enough to cause eye and throat irritation in nearby residents.

The suit says some residents have complained of headaches and others have been forced to remain indoors, or even to temporarily flee their own homes, to get relief from the smell of locally grown jalapeno chili peppers being crushed at the plant.

John Tate, an attorney for the company, said in court that the company has installed a filtration system to take care of excessive odor. He acknowledged that it does not resolve the problem completely but had “certainly improved the situation.”

“The company purchased additional filters and installation was complete Tuesday,” he said, adding that more time was needed to see how well the new system works before the end of chili-harvesting season in November, when production would be halted in any case until next year.

“If you shut us down now, we won’t know if the system works and we’ll be in the dark for nine months,” he said.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Huy Fong Foods produces up to 200,000 bottles of hot sauce a day and sold more than $60 million worth last year.

The red-colored Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, sold in clear squeezable plastic bottles with a green cap and trademark rooster logo, has become one of the top-selling condiments in the United States.

Celebrated in Bon Appetit magazine as the ingredient of the year for 2010, Sriracha, has inspired cookbooks, a food festival and a movie documentary.

The company was founded 33 years ago by David Tran, an ethnic Chinese immigrant from Vietnam, who was quoted in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week as defending the pungent nature of the chilies used in his sauce.

“If it doesn’t smell, we can’t sell,” he said.

Recent Headlines

in Local Sports

Week 6 prep football scoreboard

Lynden's Jordan Wittenberg

Jordan Wittenberg ran for two touchdowns and caught another to lead Lynden past Burlington-Edison on KPUG.

in Sports

NLDS: DeGrom outduels Kershaw, Mets beat Dodgers; Lackey dominates, Cards blank Cubs


Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Saturday. The Cardinals turn to lefty Jaime Garcia against Kyle Hendricks for the NL wild-card winners. Zach Greinke starts for the Dodgers against Noah Syndergaard for the Mets.

in Local Sports

Jackson left mark on Seahawks in start against Bengals


"I don't think any of us that were there at the time will ever forget how we felt about him and the courage that he showed and the toughness he showed and the resourcefulness to throw a football in the NFL with a torn pec," head coach Pete Carroll said

in Sports

ALDS: Alberto, Rangers beat Blue Jays in 14th; Royals even series with Astros

Rangers win in extras - Twitter

The Rangers take a 2-0 lead back to Texas for game three on Sunday.

in Sports

Bae leads an International team rally amid Mickelson mistake at Presidents Cup


Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson were assessed a one-hole penalty at No. 7 when Mickelson used a different model golf ball, ultimately costing the Americans the match.