Sriracha factory could be headed out of Irwindale

Manuel Benitez works in the packaging area at Huy Fong Foods' Sriracha factory in Irwindale.
(Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

The Huy Fong Foods Sriracha factory, makers of the popular hot sauce with the rooster on the label, may be ready for a big move.

Amid its current legal woes with the city of Irwindale, which voted last week to declare the factory a public nuisance, Huy Fong Foods owner David Tran says he’s considering moving the business to another city, reported The Times’ Frank Shyong.

According to Shyong, Tran has expressed a desire to stay put, but took people from 10 states and numerous cities in California on a tour of his factory Wednesday to discuss relocating.


“[City officials] tell you one thing, but think another,” Tran told Shyong. “I don’t want to sit here and wait to die.”

The legal troubles started when residents in the area complained of sore throats, nosebleeds, burning eyes and other health conditions claimed to have been caused by the chile odor from the plant last year. The complaints led to a lawsuit filed by the city against the factory. A judge ordered the partial shutdown of the 655,000-square-foot-factory in November and the company has been working with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to find a solution to the smell.

“This seems very extreme,” Irwindale City Attorney Fred Galante told Shyong. “It’s disappointing given that [air quality officials] have explained that there are readily available solutions.”

The city of Irwindale has given itself the power to enter the factory, find a solution and serve Huy Fong Foods the bill if it does not grant the company 90 days to fix the odor during its next meeting.

Earlier this year, Texas State Rep. Jason Villalba sent Tran a letter, asking him to consider moving to Texas.

“As a public official and a corporate attorney for small businesses, I am extremely troubled by excessive government interference in the operations of private, job-creating businesses like Huy Fong Foods,” wrote Villalba in his letter.


“The great state of Texas would welcome you and your employees with open arms if you would consider moving... Texas could provide you with exactly what you need to continue to grow, build and maximize the opportunities of Huy Fong Foods.”

But the move would mean big changes for Huy Fong Foods and possibly the taste of its product. Tran works with a single pepper grower in Ventura County and his chiles are ground the same day they are harvested. Changing locations could result in having to find a new pepper grower.

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