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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sriracha Plant Partially Shut Down in L.A., Everyone Please Stop Panicking

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 3:30 PM

click to enlarge FLICKR/IDOVERMANI

Man, people love their hypothetical shortages. If we're not counting my (shameless plug alert!) awesome cover story on local flour, there are two dueling food stories circling the Internet today: Thanksgiving and its attendant pleasures and stresses, and the court order for Huy Foods to shut down the Irwindale Sriracha plant that's allegedly been giving its neighbors heartburn, nosebleeds, and inflamed asthma -- a move which could, perhaps, lead to less of the spicy red sauce in the future.

The blogosphere has been breathlessly monitoring the status of this plant ever since the complaints about its intense and spicy odor started about a month ago, and the city of Irwindale, near L.A., sued Huy Foods on the basis of these complaints. Now, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ordered the plant to cease the operations causing the malignant odors, and to make changes that will help alleviate them.

However, as the Los Angeles Times notes, "the injunction does not stop the company operating or using the property entirely, or specify the types of actions that are required." And since the cause of the problems is thought to be the grinding of the chilis to make the sauce -- which happens only three months out of the year and is already completed -- no one knows what this ruling means for the hot sauce manufacturer.

Huy Foods is staying mum right now, though chief executive and founder David Tran previously told the LAT that prices would "jump a lot" if the plant were forced to closed. The company moved to Irwindale from Rosemead last year in order to increase production in response to growing demand, and the new facility can produce 200,000 bottles of Sriracha a day. So it's not hard to imagine a shutdown could lead to a shortage or price hike.

But everyone please calm down. A city attorney told the LAT that the judge's goal was not to shut down the plant entirely, and until this mess blows over (literally and figuratively), there's no reason to treat it like the end of the world. Look, I've spent my whole life with a bottle of rooster sauce in my fridge; I like it on eggs and can't imagine pho without it. But a nightmare apocalypse scenario if I didn't have it for six months or a year? Sounds instead like an excellent excuse to pay a visit to Hot Sauce and Panko in the Richmond (300+ bottles in stock) or Hot Heat Sauce Shop in Berkeley (200+ bottles) to explore the wide world of spicy condiments out there.

So don't think about this as a disaster. Consider it a Sriarcha-pportunity.

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About The Author

Anna Roth

Anna Roth

Anna Roth is SF Weekly's former Food & Drink Editor and author of West Coast Road Eats: The Best Road Food From San Diego to the Canadian Border.


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