IRWINDALE (CBSLA.com) — Sriracha prices could go up if the factory where the wildly popular chili sauce is made is forced to shut down over the odor it produces.
Neighbors of the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale say they have been suffering watery eyes, headaches and throat irritation, according to a lawsuit filed by the city of Irwindale against the company.
“Every morning it smells like chili powder and all that and it’s irritating,” Irwindale resident Edward Anthony said.
The city’s lawsuit is asking a judge to stop production until the company submits a plan of action to reduce the smell emanating from the factory.
“We’ve been over to the site and the interior of Huy Fong is fine,” Irwindale City Manager John Davidson said. “You go to the exterior and it’s horrible.”
Sriracha’s main ingredient is red jalapeno peppers, which are ground at the factory. Above the area where the peppers are ground are carbon filters that suck up the pungent odor, sent straight to the roof and released through vents.
Company founder David Tran led CBS2/KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen to the roof of the factory, where the odor is released into the air.
“It’s not so strong. If strong, my workers cannot work,” Tran said.
Adam Holliday, a Huy Fong employee, also went up to the roof to check out the odors coming from the vents.
“There’s no smell here,” Holliday said. “And my head is directly over the unit.”
The city is recommending Huy Fong install a new filtration unit they say would arrest 99 percent of the odorous problems.
The company says the unit costs $600,000 and that there’s no guarantee the new filtration system would work.
“We don’t want to put in a unit, spend a lot of money and have the residents still have an issue,” Holliday said.
The city and the corporation are set to meet in court Thursday.
If Huy Fong is ordered to halt production, the company says Sriracha fans can expect to see prices go up.