- Shipments of Sriracha hot sauce have been halted until mid-January as the California Department of Public Health opts to enforce existing, strict regulations on food production.
- The regulators have told Huy Fong Foods that bottles must be held at the facility for 30 days before they can be moved — effectively halting production of the legendary hot sauce.
- The move comes after local officials claimed that residents were bothered by odors from the plant. The decision to enforce the 30-day hold also came just hours after the release of a new documentary film about the hot sauce and its millions of fans around the globe.
This entire story has gotten strange. First, the shipping ban comes after Huy Fong Foods had finished their chilies-grinding process for the year. All that's happening at the plant now is the bottling of the sauce So the alleged problem with fumes had already been halted. Second, we're growing increasingly suspicious of the claims about fumes. Local officials have said they've received many complaints, but the news stories we see — and today's stories are no exception — never include quotes from any residents complaining about the factory. Nor, strangely, do the reporters writing the stories ever mention smelling fumes themselves.
Regardless of how real, or how bad, the fumes may be, the decision to halt Sriracha shipments is bad news. Certainly fans of the hot sauce will be upset, but the biggest victims here are the wholesalers who sell Sriracha to restaurants and grocers. The ban threatens their very survival. We remain hopeful that the city of Irwindale and Huy Fong Foods can settle this. But as we've said before, we won't be surprised if company founder David Tran leaves the region or simply shuts down.