Hot Sauce Still A Hot Button Issue In Irwindale - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

Hot Sauce Still A Hot Button Issue In Irwindale

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Let me get this out of the way right up front. Although I love hot sauce, I’m not wedded to any particular brand. So I don’t have any axe to grind in the whole Sriracha controversy which has exploded in the small city of Irwindale. As people on both sides of the issue packed the city council chambers last night, it was thought to be a foregone conclusion that council members would vote to officially declare the  Sriracha plant a public nuisance. So just about everyone was shocked and stunned when the council instead voted to table the issue until May 14th. Frankly, I’m not that surprised. The city has a lot to lose.

Here’s the issue. Residents who live near the plant complain that during the hot sauce processing season, the smell emanating from the plant is so noxious that it causes watery eyes, nausea and other problems.  Things didn’t look good for the popular hot sauce maker Huy Fong Foods. The city attorney and the council seemed poised to issue Sriracha CEO David Tran an ultimatum: get rid of the odor or we’ll get rid of you. But as is so often the case, once all the details began to come out, the story wasn’t quite what it seemed.

Turns out the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) received about 70 complaints in all with apparently 60% of them coming from just four families. And while not discounting the legitimacy of those complaints, declaring a company that provides up to a couple of hundred jobs a public nuisance seems to many to be a bit extreme, especially given the relatively small number of complaints in the city of just over 1400. Not that the concerns shouldn’t be addressed. But do things really have to be so contentious? And keep in mind it was the city that encouraged and approved Sriracha’s relocation of the $40 million plant to Irwindale just a few short years ago.

It would behoove the city and Sriracha to find an amicable solution and do it sooner rather than later.  Forcing the plant to close would unquestionably hurt both, not to mention the many people who would lose their jobs. But the long term effects might be particularly hurtful to Irwindale. A number of states and other cities here in California have been actively courting, some might even say begging to have Sriracha since this whole thing erupted. But perhaps even worse, Irwindale may unintentionally be sending a message to companies that might consider locating there that the city is not a very friendly place to do business. I can’t believe that is a reputation city officials would want to acquire.
Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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