Sriracha Is Ruining People’s Lives

On October 28, the city of Irwindale, California, filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods, the maker of the famous Sriracha sauce, over the effects of the fumes emanating from its 64,000-square-foot factory. Residents have claimed they are suffering from headaches and irritated eyes, further noting that the bothersome odor has, in fact, ruined a child’s birthday party. Termed a “public nuisance,” the court may force a halt in production unless the factory can provide a proper solution.

Before August of this year, main sauce production was focused in Rosemead. To keep up with demands after the boom in business, the company built a new $40 million facility about 10 miles away, in Irwindale. While the building was already erected in 2011, the move was delayed to accommodate founder David Tran’s custom designed and self-installed equipment. “I remember when I first started working here,” says Director of Operations Adam Holliday. “He would hire a plumber, for example, and he would watch him and he would say, ‘That’s easy,’ and then he would do it himself.”

Today, the hot sauce industry rakes in over $1 billion a year in global sales. Yet Tran continues to run his company the way he has for years: with his eyes closed. In fact, he has not once hiked the price of Sriracha, no matter that inflation has more than tripled food prices since 1980.

Sriracha Is Ruining People’s Lives

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