A Sriracha plant in Irwindale is being accused of stinking up a Los Angeles area town, prompting so many complaints that police have placed the facility on “odor surveillance.”
Inspectors responded to a spate of calls from concerned neighbors who said terrible smells were wafting out of the Huy Fong Foods plant, prompting police to investigate.
Once investigators showed up they found that the odors have been fleeting, and they were unable to locate the source, said Sam Atwood of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
“On both occasions, they could not detect any odor,” he said.
Officials said the Irwindale plant processes raw hot sauce materials for part of the year, and is currently in a chile harvesting cycle. They added that environmental factors can add to the smell, trapping them close to the ground.
But inspectors said they aren’t ready to give up on finding the source of the smell at the Sriracha Irwindale plant.
“We will continue to take a look at that facility. We can do odor surveillance, and go out regardless of whether there’s a complaint or not, and just have an inspector drive around the area,” he added.
It was more than just stink coming from the hot sauce plant. Residents complained of headaches and burning throats and eyes.
Not everyone is put off by the smell of Sriracha. Randy Clemens, author of the Sriracha Cookbook and an organizer of the Los Angeles Sriracha Festival, said he loves the smell when he drives by a hot sauce plant.
“I used to really enjoy rolling down my windows when I was approaching because it would smell like Srirarcha, it was great,” he said.
Clemens added that he’s been to the Irwindale plant, and didn’t find the smell particularly overpowering. At least not outside.
“I didn’t notice any smell at all outside, but certainly when you get inside the factory, especially inside the mixing room,” he said. “Only when you’re in the mixing room where they’re chopping it and mixing the ingredients is where I coughed a little bit.”
If officials do find the source of the smell and force the Irwindale Sriracha plant to close, fans of the hot chile sauce could end up paying more for it.
“If the city shuts us down, the price of Sriracha will jump up a lot,” said David Tran, CEO of Huy Fong Foods.
The Sriracha plant in Irwindale makes close to 200,000 bottles of hot sauce a day.