A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ordered a Sriracha hot sauce plant in Irwindale to partially shut down in response to smell complaints from residents -- an order that does not mean fans will have to go without the spicy bright red condiment.
Judge Robert H. O'Brien ruled for the San Gabriel Valley city -- located about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles -- Tuesday and ordered sauce maker Huy Fong Foods to cease the operations that could be causing the odors and to take steps steps to mitigate them. The injunction does not order the company to stop operating entirely.
Irwindale sued Huy Fong Foods on Oct. 21 after residents living nearby complained of asthma, heartburn and nose bleeds, blaming these conditions on the spicy odor coming from the hot sauce plant.
O'Brien acknowledged in his ruling that there was a "lack of credible evidence" linking the stated health problems to the odor, but said that the odor appears to be "extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance," the Los Angeles Times reported.
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He wrote that the odor could be "reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility" and determined that the city is "likely to prevail" in a trial in having the odor declared a public nuisance.
Irwindale officials applauded the judge's decision, considered an interim measure while the court considers the lawsuit prompted by residents' complaints.
"Neither the city, nor the judge, was specific in terms of what has to be done to cease the odors and left how that goal is achieved up to the defendant," Irwindale attorney Stephen Onstot told Reuters.
There were no immediate comments from Huy Fong executives.
David Tran, chief executive and founder of Huy Fong Foods, has told The Los Angeles Times he twice fitted filters to the factory's exhaust vents. He added that the peppers' pungent qualities make for a tastier sauce.
Sriracha is Huy Fong Foods best known and best selling product. The sauce is made from chiles that are ground into a paste. The bright red sauce is then packaged in iconic green-top squeeze bottles and used on soups, salads and just about anything else that needs a spicy kick.
The company opened a 68,000-square-foot factory in Rosemead in 1986 and the Irwindale plant in 2010. It also produces Chili Garlic Sauce, a ground chili pasted called Sambal Oelek and Sambal Badjak, a chili paste with onions.
Word of the Irwindale dispute prompted a North Texas city councilman last month to write a letter to Huy Fong Foods, inviting the makers of the popular sauce to relocate.
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