California city’s bid to close Sriracha plant denied
Published: October 31, 2013 12:30PM
Updated: October 31, 2013 12:30PM
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This Tuesday Oct. 29, 2013 photo shows the Huy Fong Foods factory for making of Sriracha chili sauce in Irwindale, Calif. The maker of Sriracha hot sauce is under fire for allegedly fouling the air around its Southern California production site. The city of Irwindale filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday Oct. 28, 2013 asking a judge to stop production at the Huy Fong Foods factory, claiming the chili odor emanating from the facility is a public nuisance. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Los Angeles • A judge has denied a Southern California factory town’s attempt to shut down production of the popular Sriracha chili sauce over complaints about the pungent smell of pepper and garlic fumes emanating from the factory.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien rejected the city of Irwindale’s initial bid Thursday to cease operations at the Huy Fong Foods plant until the company can reduce the odor.

“You’re asking for a very radical order on 24-hour notice,” O’Brien told attorney June Ailin, representing the city.

A Nov. 22 hearing was scheduled on a preliminary injunction.

The sprawling 650,000-square-foot factory processes some 100 million pounds of peppers a year into Sriracha (pronounced sree-YAH-chah) and two other popular Asian food sauces.

The peppers get washed, mixed with garlic and a few other ingredients and roasted during this time of the year, when jalapeno peppers are harvested in central California and trucked to the 2-year-old plant. The pungent smell of peppers and garlic fumes is sent through a carbon-based filtration system that dissipates them before they leave the building, but not nearly enough say residents.

They complained the odor gives them headaches, burns their throat and makes their eyes water.

Huy Fong executives said they were cooperating with the city to reduce the smell, but balked at the city’s suggestion of putting in a new, $600,000 filtration system that may not be necessary.

The company said it was looking into other alternatives when the city sued.

Sriracha’s little plastic squeeze bottles with their distinctive green caps are ubiquitous in restaurants and home pantries around the world.

Company founder David Tran said his privately held business took in about $85 million last year.