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Saving the Flavor
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The taste-buds of Californians can rest peacefully once again; Sriracha doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. The Irwindale City Council voted on Wednesday night to drop the City’s public nuisance lawsuit and declaration against Huy Fong Foods, the makers of the popular hot sauce, Sriracha.

The conflict began when Huy Fong Foods relocated its main operations to Irwindale, a small town of around 1400 people in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County. Residents of the town began complaining last year about pungent odors emanating from the factory that burned their eyes and throat. As a result, the Irwindale City Council initiated the public nuisance lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods on behalf of the affected residents. According to the Los Angeles Times article entitled, “Sriracha truce brokered with help of Gov. Jerry Brown’s office,” the relationship between the company and the city had begun to deteriorate to the point that David Tran, Huy Fong Food’s CEO, was considering relocating his company’s operations to Texas. As a result, many local leaders, particularly those in the business community, feared that Huy Fong Foods would “follow Toyota’s example and leave California for Texas.” Frank Shyong of the LA Times also reported that despite Huy Fong Foods hosting “a delegation of seven Texas officials, including three state politicians and representatives from the state’s agricultural, economic development and tourism departments,” it was never clear that Tran was actually considering relocating to Texas, for such a move would have required abandoning established business relationships with local pepper and vinegar suppliers.


However, the dispute ended with the Irwindale City Council’s unanimous vote to suspend the lawsuit, which was met with much support and relief. According to the Huffington Post’s coverage of the Sriracha-Irwindale armistice, the cessation of legal proceedings occurred, in large part, due to the collaborative efforts of Governor Brown’s Business and Economic Development Office to broker a meeting between Irwindale city officials, David Tran, and regional-air quality officials to develop a plan to abate the eye-watering smells. This “behind closed-doors” meeting set the stage for what City Councilman Julian Miranda called the “forg[ing] [of] a relationship” between Huy Fong Foods and the local government. On the other side, Tran stated that he was confident that his factory’s newly-installed, stronger filters would block the fumes beginning in August, when the company begins the processing of grinding up the chilies it uses in its signature sauces.

Image credit: Nick Ut / AP via LA Times

Guest Post by: Robert Gardner

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