The #Srirachapocalypse may (or may not) be nigh
Last week brought more bad news for Huy Fong Foods, the maker of Sriracha hot sauce. On April 9, the city of Irwindale, California voted to declare the Huy Fong factory a public nuisance, based on ongoing complaints from residents about scratchy throats and other airborne-chili-related ailments.
This vote follows last fall’s gripping courtroom drama, in which a California county judge sided with disgruntled townspeople and ordered Huy Fong to halt its sauce-making activities temporarily. At the time, Huy Fong had already finished the especially stinky chili-grinding phase of its yearly operations, so the injunction didn’t seem to have much impact on the factory in the short term. That legal situation is still up in the air, with a trial expected to happen sometime in the fall.
In the meantime, though, the city of Irwindale is taking matters into its own hands. At a meeting last week, the local city council gave Huy Fong 90 days to come up with an effective odour-control plan, or else. (The “else” in this case seems to be pretty mild, actually, with the worst-case scenario being that city officials could go ahead and forcibly install some chili-fume filters at the Sriracha plant if Huy Fong can’t reign in the stink by June.) According to Huy Fong lawyer John Tate, city council was a tad eager to lay judgment on the sauce maker. “They seemed to be in a hurry to find a violation,” he told the Pasadena Star-News, “when the evidence last time we were here showed about 12 people from the entire city having a complaint.” The Star-News has reported that two-thirds of the complaints made about the factory came from the same four households, which, if true, certainly sounds a bit shifty.
No matter how this plays out, Sriracha supplies and prices should remain stable until at least June, and quite possibly longer. The Los Angeles Times reports that Huy Fong actually has about 18 months’ worth of pulverized chilis in storage that should prevent any hot-sauce shortages. There is apparently no reassuring die-hard addicts, though, who have gone into full-on hoarding mode.