You may have noticed that fans of Sriracha, specifically the kind that is manufactured by Huy Fong Foods, have been pretty depressed lately. That's because makers of the famous "rooster sauce" have been ordered to cease part of their manufacturing operation in Irwindale, California, near Los Angeles. A judge ruled that the spicy smells coming from the plant, which were produced by the crushing and cooking of hot chillis, were posing a public health threat that needed to be stopped.
People in surrounding neighborhoods have been complaining ever since the new plant opened in 2010. Residents of Irwindale have reported experiencing sore throats, increased risk of asthma attacks and heartburn as a result of the fumes emanating from the factory. The massive 68,000 square foot facility produces hot sauce and chili pastes that are popular in Asian cuisine.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O'Brien was not fully convinced that the symptoms residents were experiencing was directly related to the factory. But he did feel that they had made a strong case that living nearby was, "extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance," and the company should do more to mitigate the release of the fumes.
It's unclear what the consequences of the decision will be for Huy Fong Foods, which may either need to relocate to another state or retrofit their facility with better containment of the fumes. However, it's important that the court decided in favor of public health.