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The Lawsuit Against the Makers of Sriracha Is Only Getting Worse

Clearly, the city of Irwindale is not as excited as the rest of the world about Sriracha being the biggest thing to happen to hot sauce since the chili pepper.

Things are heating up in southern California, where tension between the makers of the iconic Sriracha chili sauce and the city of Irwindale continues to ferment. This time, the rooster is fighting back after the city filed a second lawsuit in three years.

Six years ago, Huy Fong Foods—the company that manufactures the most well-known, rooster-embellished version of the iconic hot sauce—opened a 23-acre factory in the San Gabriel Valley designed to accommodate the production of some 20 million green-tipped bottles of hot sauce. Obviously, you don't go through 57,000 tons of red jalapeños per season without emitting some pretty strong aromas, and it didn't take long for nearby residents to begin complaining of headaches, heartburn, and burning, watery eyes.


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In 2013, a lawsuit was filed by Irwindale, which saw the California Department of Public Health enforce a 30-day ban on any hot sauce production and created global fears of a sriracha shortage.

But city officials ended up dropping that lawsuit after the South Coast Air Quality Management District found no evidence of air quality violations, and Huy Fong vowed, via written promise, to solve the smell issue. The city of Irwindale filed a new suit in May of this year, alleging that Huy Fong is late on its obligation to pay $250,000 a year instead of taxes, seeking $427,085 in damages.

Now, the hot sauce maker is hitting back with a countersuit alleging that Irwindale has embarked on a "campaign of harassment" against the company and should pay back the $750,000 that Huy Fong says were "voluntarily" paid to City Hall, according to SoCal wire service City News.

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The countersuit alleges not only that Huy Fong is being harassed by the city of Irwindale, but strongly emphasises the impact of the hot sauce on the tiny California town, claiming the company gives away $100,000 each year to locals and visitors with "free T-shirts, Sriracha sauce, and Sriracha-inspired snacks," City News reports.

"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."

Clearly, the city of Irwindale, a city of less than 1,500 residents, is not as excited as the rest of the world about Sriracha being the biggest thing to happen to hot sauce since the chili pepper.