Sriracha battle over: Victory for chilli as council throws out 'public nuisance' declaration and lawsuit against hugely popular hot sauce factory

A judge had ruled the Sriracha factory in California a health hazard - but measures have since been taken to protect nearby residents from fumes

In a victory for chilli fans around the world, a town that is home to the fiercely popular Sriracha hot sauce company has removed its status as a “public nuisance” and thrown out a lawsuit that threatened to halt its production.

The simple piquant condiment that inspired a global community of foodies – and whole books of dedicated recipes – had been in undeniably hot water following complaints from local residents.

Those living near the Sriracha (pronounced (suhr-AH'-chuh) factory in Irwindale, California complained that the fumes expelled during the chilli harvest season were like “respiratory napalm”, burning their throats and eyes.

Last month a judge agreed, and sent fans into a stockpiling frenzy by ordering city officials to step in and shut down the factory if the problem could not be resolved.

Yet after the sauce’s creator David Tran provided assurances that the issue would be addressed – and hinted at taking his business to Texas instead – the Irwindale council voted unanimously to drop both the public nuisance declaration and a lawsuit against his company, Huy Fong Foods.

Sriracha chilli sauce being produced at the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, California Sriracha chilli sauce being produced at the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, California City councillors described “forging a relationship” with Tran, whose company produces 20 million bottles of Sriracha a year and is growing at a staggering annual rate of around 20 per cent.

According to Pasadena Star-News, last night’s council decision came after the company installed stronger filters on its rooftop air vents.

These will not be tested fully until the factory begins processing new batches of chillies in August, but in a letter to the council Tran said: “At the commencement of this year’s chilli harvest season, if the air filtration system does not perform well, then Huy Fong Foods will make the necessary changes in order to better the system right away.”

The maker of Sriracha hot sauce is under fire for allegedly fouling the air around its Southern California production site The maker of Sriracha hot sauce is under fire for allegedly fouling the air around its Southern California production site Three weeks ago the Sriracha factory was visited by a delegation of officials from Texas, who tried to tempt Tran by explaining the “value proposition” of a change in state.

A plant science expert told Pasadena Star-News there was no reason the company could not re-locate and also “not have the dense population where he can put the factory without people getting the respiratory napalm”.

Regardless of last night’s victory, Huy Fong was still believed to be looking at sites in the Lone Star state for a second operation – but Los Angeles County officials said they were at least pleased the decision showed California was “open for business”.

About Sriracha

David Tran arrived in Los Angeles as a refugee following the end of the Vietnam War in 1978, and started experimenting with chillies in a bucket after he found there were no hot sauces that lived up to those he had known back home.

In creating Sriracha in 1980, he said his mission was to “make a rich man’s sauce at a poor man’s price”, and the product gradually evolved into a cult hit.

Huy Fong Foods CEO David Tran poses next to hoppers where chillies are delivered during crushing season at the Sriracha factory on 14 May, 2014 in Irwindale, California Huy Fong Foods CEO David Tran poses next to hoppers where chillies are delivered during crushing season at the Sriracha factory on 14 May, 2014 in Irwindale, California David Chang, the trendsetting New York chef, fuelled its popularity by placing bottles on every table at his Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2004, while food magazines lined up to name Sriracha their “ingredient of the year”.

The sauce is made up of ripe, red jalapeno chilli peppers cut with sugar, salt, garlic and vinegar. It peaks at around 2,500 on the Scoville scale – around the lower range of original Tabasco sauce and about half the heat of a pure, fresh jalapeno on its own.

The company now operates from a $40 million (£24 million), 650,000-square-foot facility in Irwindale, churning 100 million lb (45.4 million kg) of chilli peppers a year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Sport
football
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk