Residents of the California city Irwindale were most likely not on hand for Sunday’s inaugural Sriracha Festival in downtown Los Angeles. City officials have filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods Inc., the company that produces the chili sauce, due to its troublesome odor that has left some people sick.
Huy Fong Foods opened the 650,000-square-foot production facility in Irwindale this past summer to accompany its two locations in Rosemead. The condiment’s popularity has exploded in the United States, earning Bon Appétit Magazine’s 2010 Ingredient of the Year. The chili paste’s ingredients include chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar.
“Sriracha is made from sun ripen chilies which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic and packaged in a convenient squeeze bottle,” states Huy Fong’s website. “Like all our sauces, we use only the highest quality ingredients and never any artificial colors or flavorings.”
According to Irwindale City Attorney Fred Galante, the penetrating odor produced by the factory has forced some families to spend most of their time indoors. Residents of Irwindale say the smell has caused irritated throats, a burning sensation in the eyes, and headaches.
“Given how long it’s going on, we had no choice but to institute this action,” Galante told the Los Angeles Times. “If they fix it and the odor problems stop, we don’t need this order; but so far the odor complaints continue.”
Huy Fong Foods representatives said workers in their two other facilities have had no complaints of a spicy odor and have denied a problem with the production method. City officials filed the suit on Monday, and a judge is expected to make a decision this coming Thursday. If the complaint is approved, the company will be forced to halt production until the problem is solved.