A Sriracha-free Thanksgiving?

Jan. 1, 2000

New food processing plant burns local residents (and their noses)

It's almost Thanksgiving. For those of you who are thankful for Sriracha hot sauce, you might want to stock up on the super-spicy flavor enhancer before it’s too late.

Huy Fong Foods (www.huyfong.com), makers of the original sauce — you know, the one with the green cap and the rooster on it — opened its new $40-million, 655,000-sq-ft factory and headquarters in Irwindale, California, a few months ago, and the neighbors are complaining they got the stinky end of the bargain.

After operating out of two buildings in Rosemead, California, since the late 1980s, Huy Fong Foods made the move into the new facility to triple its production capacity. Demand, after all, is high. The company sold $60 million worth of sauce in 2012, and Sriracha is the flagship product.

Huy Fong sets monthly production quotas for each of the four sauces it manufactures. Every bottle of sauce is sold before it’s produced. This was done to avoid mishaps similar to the one that occurred in 2007, when the company oversold its product and ran out of peppers at the end of the third quarter. That set off product hoarding among consumers and rocketed prices up on store shelves.

But now that the sauce is readily available and production was purring, Irwindale residents started complaining about the smell coming from the new plant and a judge ordered Huy Fong Foods to cease the operations causing the odor and find a solution that eliminates or mitigates the smell to a tolerable level (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-1127-sriracha-plant-20131127,0,846102.story#axzz2lrGdoaDM).

Just another bump in the road for David Tran, who fled South Vietnam with his family after the Communists took power. He ended up in Chinatown and started making his hot sauce, a version of the sauce originating in Si Racha, Thailand, in the 1980s.

There’s no telling what this will mean to the immediate future of Sriracha production, but we’ll all be keeping an eye (and a nose) on how the facility is able to reduce or eliminate the “public nuisance” that has flared the nostrils of locals.

For now, stock up on Sriracha while you still can. Get it while it’s hot.

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