Production of Sriracha chilli sauce branded a 'public nuisance' in California by neighbours who say processing factory causes health risks

Cooking up the US's favourite spicy condiment has lead residents to complain of irritation to their eyes and throats

For lovers of the particularly piquant hot sauce, the news sends a shiver down the spine. The production of Sriracha, the spicy condiment favoured by millions of Americans, is a "public nuisance" and must change, or stop altogether.

Residents living in the small southern California city of Irwindale have long argued that the production of Sriracha at the Huy Fong Foods processing factory causes health risks – irritating their eyes and throats, and even forcing some to remain indoors altogether.

On Wednesday, after months of campaigning from residents, Irwindale authorities voted to prepare a resolution finding Huy Fong Foods to be a public nuisance, a resolution that could, in less than three months, outlaw production of the sauce. The city council is expected to declare Huy Fong Foods a nuisance when it next meets on 23 April.

Huy Fong Foods' Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, sold in clear squeeze bottles with a green cap and trademark rooster logo, is one is the top-selling sauces in the US. Once celebrated as the ingredient of the year, it has inspired cookbooks, a food festival, and a documentary.

John Tate, an attorney working on behalf of Huy Fong Foods, confirmed that the company was in the process of drawing up an action plan that would be ready to implement by the end of next week. He pledged to solve the matter by the time the chilli production season begins in June.

"We're disappointed," he said last week. "We had been led to believe we were providing the city with what it wanted. They seemed to be in a hurry to find a violation. It seemed to be to be a bit heavy-handed."

The saga, now dubbed "Srirachapocalypse" by some commentators on social media, has inevitably drawn the attention of those on Twitter and food bloggers. One Sriracha fan could not contain his fury, tweeting: "This is an OUTRAGE! Who is complaining?!" Another wrote: "I'm pretty sure that the complete shutdown of Sriracha would be more of a public nuisance than the smell the factory makes. #freesriracha."

There is, however, little risk of spicy food lovers running out of Sriracha just yet – Huy Fong Foods said it has enough stock to last 18 months, if production is stopped.

Representatives from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, who investigated the factory after 69 complaints were filed, played down talk of Sriracha's end, and said they would work with the company to curb the smell. A spokeswoman, Tina Cox, told the Los Angeles Times: "We believe that the information we have gathered should allow both Huy Fong Foods and the city of Irwindale to resolve their differences."

However, matters might not be so straightforward as they seem. According to a Pasedena Star News editorial, four addresses in the town have generated the majority of the complaints, with one complainant said to be son of a city councillor.

Giving evidence to the city authorities in February, residents were divided on the sauce's potential for public nuisance.

Juan Bravo, an employee, said: "I don't have any problems with my health. Since I started working there, I stopped using my inhaler."

"We are not here to shut Huy Fong Foods down. We want to fix it," said Dena Zepeda, who has led the campaign to curb the fumes. The firm has 86 days to do just that.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

    Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

    Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

    £10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

    £17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable