Sriracha maker fires back after factory declared nuisance over odor

Sriracha maker fires back after factory declared nuisance over odor
Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 5:45pm

The attorney for a company that produces one of America's most popular hot sauces told HLN on Thursday that complaints about an odor coming from the company's factory amount to a lot of fuss over a very minor issue.

"Of the 61 complaints lodged by the city's residents, over 40 of them came from the same four people," said John Tate, who represents Huy Fong Foods.

Minor or not, the issue has led to threats of a shutdown for the factory in Irwindale, California. Now, the city has officially declared the factory a public nuisance.

The Irwindale City Council voted 4-0 Wednesday to give Huy Fong Foods 90 days to make changes to stop the spicy odor problem, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The vote came despite Tate's proposal to submit an action plan within 10 days to have the smell fixed by June 1.

Although they have not released test results, examiners from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) in Southern California have been performing tests at the facility and have offered to assist Huy Fong Foods in coming up with a mitigation plan to address the odor using active carbon filters.

Tate told HLN that AQMD has been extraordinarily cooperative in working with Huy Fong on a solution, and that AQMD has never cited the factory for any sort of issue, even its odor.

"The factory only grinds peppers once a year, from August to November," Tate said. "So in a sense, this development doesn't change anything. We'll continue to work with the AQMD on the solution."

Residents first reported a burning sensation in their eyes and throats -- as well as problems with headaches and watering eyes -- in October

As a result, Huy Fong suspended operations in November on the order of a Los Angeles County judge. Irwindale was granted a preliminary injunction, which allowed officials to take action against Huy Fong and halt all factory activity regarding the manufacturing of chili peppers.

A trial has been set for later this year in which the city of Irwindale will assert that Huy Fong Foods did not comply with certain operating conditions.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez issued a statement in support of Huy Fong Foods after the vote was taken.

"I ask that the city of Irwindale reject this inflammatory and unnecessary 'public nuisance' designation and constructively work with Huy Fong Foods to resolve these issues," it reads.

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