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Sriracha Factory Shuttered Over Fiery Fumes

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

Sriracha hot sauce -- the chosen condiment of hipsters and foodies across the nation -- is landing in some legal hot water. A judge recently ruled a part of the Sriracha factory in Southern California must shut down because of the pungent spicy odor it produces in the neighborhood.

The sauce was literally too hot to handle for neighbors. Sriracha's possible new slogan: "so hot, it hurts to breathe."

Sriracha Factory Olfactory Nuisance

Judge Robert H. O'Brien sided with the city of Irwindale where Sriracha recently relocated, saying sauce maker Huy Fong Foods is responsible for a public nuisance, reports the Associated Press.

A public nuisance occurs when a property owner's activity affects the health, safety, welfare, or comfort of the public in general. In this case, the public nuisance is a factory emitting painfully smelly odors.

Judge O'Brien acknowledged there was a "lack of credible evidence" linking locals' complaints of breathing trouble and watering eyes to the factory. But he said the odor that could be "reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility" is, for residents, "extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance."

Stop the Spicy Stink

Judge O'Brien ruled Huy Fong Foods must stop any operations that could be causing the odors and make changes to mitigate them. This type of order -- to do or not do something -- is called an injunction.

The court's injunction, given in response to a lawsuit filed by the city in late October, does not specify what types of actions are required or whether non-compliance will force the factory to shut down altogether.

'Chilling' Effect on Hot Sauce Production?

Injunctive relief isn't a remedy that's liberally granted, so a court will almost always consider hardship that may result from granting on denying the injunction.

Previously, the trendy sauce manufacturer argued that there is no reason to close the plant now because harvest season and subsequent grinding of red-hot Jalapeno peppers, the sauce's key ingredient, has passed, reports the AP.

That's actually good news for Sriracha connoisseurs, because it means the injunction probably won't have a huge immediate effect on the company's sauce production or the nation's hot sauce supply as Huy Fong keeps up its year-round mixing and bottling.

Rest assured, your pizza, take-out Chinese, and plain bowl of noodles can still be doused in Red Rooster goodness -- for now, anyway.

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