Once Again, The Sriracha Factory Could Be In Trouble
After the city of Irwindale filed its second lawsuit against the most prominent makers of Sriracha chili sauce, the company decided to fight back with a countersuit.
In 2010, Huy Fong Foods opened a 23-acre factory in order to produce about 20 million bottles of the most well-known version of Sriracha hot sauce. However, local residents complained of various health concerns as a result of the smell from the hot sauce production process, including watery eyes, headaches, and heartburn, according to Munchies.
In 2013, the city of Irwindale filed a lawsuit against the factory, which resulted in a 30-day ban enforced by the California Department of Public Health. The world was concerned that there would be a Sriracha shortage. However, the ban was lifted after the South Coast Air Quality Management District stated there was no evidence of air quality violations.
In May 2016, the city filed another lawsuit, alleging the company has not paid its annual payment of $250,000 since 2014. The $250,000 fee had been paid from 2012 to 2014 in lieu of tax payments, but no installments were paid for 2015. The city sought $427,085 in damages.
After having reached an agreement to pay the fourth and fifth installments by November 2016 and January 2017, the company has decided to countersue. Huy Fong Foods alleged that the city of Irwindale has harassed the company and should return the $750,000 in payments that were “voluntarily paid to City Hall,” as reported by City News Service.
“In the summer of 2014, information was published revealing that [the city] had embarked on a long campaign to impose expensive and unnecessary odor abatement measures on Huy Fong Foods and even to shut down its manufacturing facility,” the countersuit reported. "After falling victim to this campaign of harassment at the hands of [the city]... Huy Fong Foods decided not to make further contributions to a city openly hostile to its business interests."
The countersuit added that Huy Fong Foods has greatly contributed to the local community, and gives away $100,000 annually through free T-shirts, Sriracha sauce and Sriracha-inspired snacks.
"Huy Fong Foods has employed local residents and held job fairs for local workers for the past three years," the countersuit states. "The factory is a popular tourist destination and brings visitors and revenue into the city - - so popular, in fact, that Huy Fong Foods added two trams to transport visitors around the plant and even opened a [gift] shop."