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Sriracha Hot Sauce Plant Ordered to Cease Spicy Odors

A California state court recently put a major manufacturing plant for the popular sriracha hot sauce on the hot seat recently, ordering it to cease emitting odors, and the potential for odors, that would violate its facility permit. City of Irwindale v. Huy Fong Foods Inc., No. BC525856, Order Re: Prelim. Inj. (Cal. Sup. Ct., L.A. Co., Nov. 26, 2013).

Although the plant has been operating in Los Angeles County since the late 1980s, news sources have reported that the company began production in a new factory in Irwindale, CA in 2012. See Frank Shyong, Sriracha Sauce Factory Odor Causing Headaches, Burning Eyes, City Says,L.A. Times Oct. 28, 2013, available at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-irwindale-sues-sriracha-20131028,0,2608897.story#axzz2j1T5nJF5. Plaintiffs, the City of Irwindale and the City Attorney, sued Respondent Huy Fong Foods Inc. due to complaints of approximately 30 residents that the spicy odors of the sauce were causing health problems, including irritating throats and eyes, and were also causing residents to avoid spending time outdoors in the area. 

Plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction enjoining Respondent from “operating or using” its sriracha plant. The court did not find sufficient evidence that Plaintiffs’ complained of health problems were tied to the plant’s emissions, but found that Plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their public nuisance claim because the odors were “extremely annoying, irritating, and offensive to the senses.” Order Re: Prelim. Inj., at 2. Accordingly, the court granted petitioners’ preliminary injunction in part and ordered Respondent to “immediately make changes in its site operations” to reduce odors and the potential for odors. Id. However, the court did not go so far as to enjoin the plant’s operations generally.