Food Policy

Sriracha Kerfuffle Documents Revealed: 'THIS PROBLEM NEEDS TO BE TAKEN CARE OF NOW, NOT LATER!!!!!'



The public just got some new insight into one of the last year's spiciest (and fishiest) political kerfuffles: the push by the city council of Irwindale, California to shut down Huy Fong Foods, the makers of Sriracha hot sauce. The tireless freedom-of-information requesters at MuckRock yesterday published internal council documents, revealing theatrically furious communication among the local government officials and a desire to exploit regulations to force the company into submission.

First, to recap the situation. The squabbling began last October when reports emerged that some residents of the 1,500-person industrial town experienced watery eyes and sore throats due to the smells emitted by the Huy Fong factory. However, L.A. Weekly's Dennis Romero was skeptical, noting that "most of the odor complaints have come from four nearby homes, one of which is occupied by the relative of a city councilman. That councilman, Hector Ortiz, recused himself from discussion and voting on the matter because, he says, he owns property near the plant." And, the city was trying to sell property next to the factory at the time.

The newly revealed memos and emails show that some members of government were actually "happy to report the scent of chilies" emanating when production began in 2012, but, a year later Ortiz and Councilman David Fuentes, who also lived near the factory (and also ultimately recused himself from the matter), saw a total shutdown as the first and only appropriate course of action.

"I just received notice that the odor at this place is very strong. We must proceed with SHUT DOWN immediately," demanded Ortiz in an email, despite the fact that he had previously applauded how much safer that part of town had become since the $80 million business moved in.

Fuentes was even more adamant. "THIS PROBLEM NEEDS TO BE TAKEN CARE OF NOW, NOT LATER!!!!!," he emailed his fellow council members in October. Notably, he also suggested that "if we need to shut them down for non compliance, then let's do what we have to do."

Although it's not clear exactly what Fuentes meant by "non compliance" or if the council made moves based on his plot, the city did sue Huy Fong and got a judge to order a partial shutdown in November, even though that the judge acknowledged a "lack of credible evidence" regarding the health risk claims. Likewise, California's health regulators stepped in and changed their own food rules in December as they demanded a 30-day hold on operations, which created fear of a national Sriracha shortage.

The fight dragged on until this May when, following bad press and relocation bids by economically freer locales, the city backpedaled on their claim that the Sriracha maker was a "public nuisance" and agreed that new air filters on the factory were a sufficient remedy to the situation.

Check out Reason TV's coverage of the Sriracha scandal here:

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  1. Ahh the state; parasite and predator at every level.


    1. Me neither…. Oh.

    2. That fella in the photo, chugging cock sauce straight out of the bottle?!?! Whoa, Nelly! At my family’s family reunions, we have enough arguments about whether vegetarians and vegans and octo-lacto-smegmo-lugarrians should have their beliefs respected, or laughed at? Never mind the lactochuggalugarians who drink milk straight out of the milk jug, late at night, when no one is looking, even in the most germophobic households?. NOW we are going to have to fight over cocksaucechuggulagarians as well?!?!?!? WTF is this crazy-crazy world cumming to?!??!!

      1. My apologies, Reason fans? I got a bit over-wrought there? Cum to think of it, I can help keep the fights at my family reunions down to a dull roar, even in the face of respect-demanding lactochuggaluggarians and even, yes, legitimacy-demanding cocksaucechuggaluggarians as well, even when vulgar photos of cocksaucechuggaluggarians are published by trouble-makers like Reason? I can keep a handle on it ALL!!! Yes, I can!!! So long as Reason does NOT go one step further, and publish photos of cocksauceuptheassarians!!! PLEASE!!!

  3. Your average city council chamber really is a hive of wretched scum and villainy, isn’t it.

  4. So the government caved to Big Sriracha?

  5. S’ok though, Texas is importing more firearm manufacturing jobs from Connecticut…..g-facility


  6. These city council members deserve no less than a bottle of sriracha jammed right up their asses. Their loving constituents can then place bets on who’ll squeal the loudest.

    1. My money’s on the cheeky looking fellow on the right in the front row.

    2. The key, after insertion, is to squeeze real hard.

  7. The fight dragged on until this May when, following bad press and relocation bids by economically freer locales, the city backpedaled on their claim that the Sriracha maker was a “public nuisance” and agreed that new air filters on the factory were a sufficient remedy to the situation.

    I wish, at that point, Huy Fong Foods had said

    “Thank you for permitting us to operate. We’re moving anyways.”

  8. and relocation bids by economically freer locales


    Shutting down is OK but moving is bad?

    I fail to see how this would sway the councils plan to shut them down.

    1. Shutting the company down allows the bureaucrats to show their POWAH.

      Allowing the company to move away might give other companies ideas.

      (Aside from the huge market in California, I fail to see why any business would want to locate there.)

      Anecdote: My brother sells veterinary equipment imported from Europe. He was planning to expand to the US and looked at setting up in Los Angeles. However, the regulatory hassles were so great that he finally told them to fuck it, despite all the glossy brochures.

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