Food News

UPDATE Looming Sriracha Shortage? Judge Could Shut Down Factory

Most people who have encountered Sriracha from Huy Fong Foods, Inc. have one of two reactions to it; love or hate. There is no in between. So, perhaps it is not so surprising that the hot sauce has managed to divide a town.

UPDATE 10/31: The judge (clearly a fan of spicy rooster sauce) has decided the halting of production at the Huy Fong Foods factory would be too drastic at this time. So, precious Sriracha will continue to be produced while the company comes to a resolution with the city of Irwindale.

UPDATE 10/31: Things are getting serious. CNN just did an interview with The Oatmeal about the possible shortage - and we know how he feels about Sriracha.

After almost a dozen complaints to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the town of Irwindale is now seeking to have a judge halt production, which David Tran - owner of Huy Fong Foods - warns could cause Sriracha prices to sky rocket.

According to the LA Times:

Inspectors conducted "odor surveillance" on two occasions in and around the neighborhood where Huy Fong Foods is located, said Sam Atwood of the AQMD.

"On both occasions, they could not detect any odor," he said.

Atwood said there was one complaint Tuesday and four Saturday. He said that odors can be fleeting, depending on factors like the weather, and that deep marine layers can trap odors and pollutants close to the ground.

This is the time of year when the factory is processing the hybrid jalapeño pepper developed by Tran specifically for the beloved "rooster sauce." The peppers are ground fresh for about three months out of the year.

The plant can produce about 200,000 bottles a day. The 1,400 person town also gets about 50 full-time and about 200 temporary positions out of it.

If you are a Sriracha devotee, the idea of halting production and sending prices up, probably has you planning a stop at store to stock up on the way home.

If you can't stand spicy, your sympathies are probably with the towns folk of Irwindale who claim to have experienced burning eyes, noses, and throats as well as headaches.

The judge is expected to rule on the halting of the factory Thursday. Whatever the outcome, it can't hurt to stockpile.

You can contact Rebecca Dittmar, Arts & Culture Editor at [email protected].

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Rebecca McBane is the arts and culture/food editor for New Times Broward-Palm Beach. She began her journalism career at the Sun Sentinel's community newspaper offshoot, Forum Publishing Group, where she worked as the editorial assistant and wrote monthly features as well as the weekly library and literature column, "Shelf Life." After a brief stint bumming around London's East End (for no conceivable reason, according to her poor mother), she returned to real life and South Florida to start at New Times as the editorial assistant in 2009. A native Floridian, Rebecca avoids the sun and beach at all costs and can most often be found in a well-air-conditioned space with the glow of a laptop on her face.
Contact: Rebecca McBane