The city of Irwindale scored a court victory Tuesday as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered a Sriracha hot sauce plant to partially shut down.
Sauce maker Huy Fong Foods officials could not be reached for comment and it’s unclear what the ruling means for next year’s supply of Sriracha hot sauce. The factory grinds chilis for three months out of the year, and the grinding of this year’s chilis has been completed. The mixing and the bottling of the sauce occur on an ongoing basis.
The city sued the company after odor complaints from nearby residents.
Judge Robert H. O’Brien ordered Huy Fong Foods to cease any kind of operations that could cause the odors and make immediate changes that would help reduce them.
The injunction does not stop the company from operating or using the property entirely, or specify the types of actions that are required.
O’Brien acknowledged in his ruling that there was a “lack of credible evidence” that health problems have resulted from the odor, as residents claim, but said that the smell seemed to be “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance.”
He also wrote that the odor could be “reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility,” and determined that the city is “likely to prevail” in declaring the odor a public nuisance, according to the ruling.
Irwindale officials applauded the judge’s decision.
“We believe it’s a strong ruling that acknowledges and is reflective of the concerns that the community has raised about the health impacts of the odor,” said City Atty. Fred Galante.
The ruling will take effect as soon as the judge signs the injunction, which Galante says will be filed as early as Wednesday.
The city’s goal is not to stop the production of the sauce, Galante said.
“We’re going to try to keep having a conversation with Huy Fong and working out some collaborative way to test and make sure the odor problems are addressed,” he said.