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City Sues Plant That Makes Sriracha Sauce

IRWINDALE, Calif. -- The Sriracha brand hot sauce, you know the one with the rooster on the bottle, is apparently heating up more than just tastebuds!
IRWINDALE, Calif. -- The Sriracha brand hot sauce, you know the one with the rooster on the bottle, is apparently heating up more than just tastebuds!

People in Irwindale, California claim strong odors coming from the plant are causing things like burning eyes and headaches.


Call it Chili-Gate 2013.  Sriracha hot sauce - its tell-tale green top and rooster on the bottle - is in the hot seat after complaints that the smell emanating from its new plant in east Los Angeles is making people sick.

"It smells very much like pepper.  Sort of stingey," says Celeste Gamez.   Gamez - a college freshman - who lives in the shadow of the plant says the chili makes her sneeze and her throat sore.  Others have complained to the city of Irwindale of headaches and difficulty breathing.  The city is now filing an injunction to force the plant to either fix the problem or shut down.

David Tran is the Vietnamese immigrant who turned the mix of red jalapeño peppers, garlic, salt and vinegar into a multi-million dollar global brand.  "Now it seems Irwindale not friendly to me."  He says the plant, which was chosen to be built here by the city of Irwindale, cost $40 million and has state of the art air-filters.  He even took reporters to the roof to prove it.

At fault?  It's harvest and chili grinding time.  Truckload after truckload of the hot peppers are brought in over a three month period.   In the last week, the air quality department has logged 11 complaints.  It sent an inspector… finding no smells and no violations at the plant. 

While Sriracha might look hotter than Hades, it's no where near, rating only about 2000 points on the Scoville scale.  That's about half where Tabasco sauce is and no where near the hottest chilis in the world. 

Siracha's jalapeño… no where near that hot and the new plant has brought needed jobs to the area.  Even those who suffer, agree.

"If they could just fix the problem that would be best cause even one of my friends just got a job there," says Gamez.

How hot is too hot? Now in the hands of a judge.


(Miguel Marquez, CNN)


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