Sriracha factory ordered to put a lid on smell after locals pepper city with complaints

November 27, 2013: 6:22 PM ET
Sriracha factory too hot for neighbors
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

A Sriracha hot sauce factory is getting a chilly reception in Southern California.

A judge in Los Angeles County has ordered Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods to suspend operations at a plant in the city of Irwindale that local residents claim has caused an overpowering odor.

Irwindale claimed in a lawsuit that the stench was causing watery eyes, sore throats and headaches, prompting complaints from dozens of residents.

"You couldn't stay outside in some places," Irwindale city manager John Davidson said. "We've had softball teams that have had to cancel their games and practices because their eyes were watering."

The judge's ruling orders Huy Fong to "immediately make changes in its site operations reducing odors and the potential for odors." The city has been pushing Huy Fong to install a new filtration system to address the issue.

"We want to find a balance between letting this business be a business and protecting our residents," Davidson said. "We hope this will allow us to sit down with Huy Fong and come up with a solution that meets the needs of the community."

Huy Fong declined to comment.

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For most of its lifespan, Huy Fong has produced the Thai chili sauce without incident in Rosemead, Calif., but it shifted some production to Irwindale earlier this year.

While Huy Fong isn't the originator of Sriracha, the company's distinctive green-topped bottles have become a staple on grocery shelves, kitchen lines and restaurant tables since it began U.S. production in 1983.

The company produced 20 million bottles of Sriracha in 2012, or $60 million worth, all without the benefit of advertising. Consumer devotion to the brand has inspired cookbooks, embroidery, jewelry and a limited-edition flavor of Lay's potato chips.

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