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The hot debate about sriracha sauce

Emily Hepner
Features Writer

What’s the hottest condiment in the world of food right? Both figuratively and literally it’s sriracha (pronounced see-ra-cha). If you’ve never tried this sauce, chances are you’ve at least seen it. The most signature bottle design is a green cap and a rooster with the Huy Fong Foods Inc. signature logo circling it. This label has become iconic now that it is being printed on mugs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops and even underwear. However, that is just one brand of sriracha. A common misconception is that sriracha is a brand, when really it is no different than ketchup, mustard and barbeque sauce, in that there are many different manufacturers, states Parade magazine. 

The production of sriracha sauce, a popular hot sauce condiment, comes at a cost for Californian residents nearby the Irwindale, Californian factory. In fall of 2013, the facotry was ordered by a judge to temporarily shut down any operations that cause fumes because its smell was labeled as a nuisance. Locals have claimed to experience burning eyes, irritated throats and headaches.
The production of sriracha sauce, a popular hot sauce condiment, comes at a cost for Californian residents nearby the Irwindale, Californian factory. In fall of 2013, the facotry was ordered by a judge to temporarily shut down any operations that cause fumes because its smell was labeled as a nuisance. Locals have claimed to experience burning eyes, irritated throats and headaches.

So what is so special about this sauce that it has taken a special place in popular culture? “It lends its flavor to any cuisine,” said junior Kaylissa Gehres. This is no exaggeration. BuzzFeed.com compiled a list of nine sriracha recipes and coming in at number 8 on the list was “Sriracha Peach Crisp.” Other fan favorites with sriracha are numerous rice dishes, wings, pasta, eggs and pizza. There’s really no limit to what this vibrant red sauce can be put on. 

The sauce, which is naturally a fiery red, is made from chili peppers, sugar, garlic, distilled vinegar and salt. “It’s a nice mix of spiciness and garlic. It’s just the right amount of hotness”, said junior Garrett Zinn. According to BuzzFeed, nearly 100 million pounds of peppers are harvested each year for Huy Fong Foods alone. Within two hours of being plucked, the peppers are grounded on site at the Irwindale, California factory, which can be toured for free. 

Unfortunately, its location has been causing numerous problems. Back in the fall of 2013, the factory was ordered by a judge to temporarily shut down any operations that cause fumes because its smell was labeled as a nuisance; however, the judge denied a request that all manufacturing stop. Many locals have claimed to experience burning eyes, irritated throats and headaches. 

Chili peppers contribute to the spicy flavor and red color of the sauce.
Chili peppers contribute to the spicy flavor and red color of the sauce.

Recently, the issues caused by the fumes are being brought up again. USA Today says that as of April 10, 2014, the factory was told that it had 90 days to develop a better way to control the chili pepper laced fumes. Huy Fong attorney John Tate says that they have been working with South Coast Air Quality Management District on the filtration system since they began receiving air quality complaints. 

While they haven’t developed a plan of action just yet, Huy Fong Foods CEO David Tran doesn’t seem too worried. When the first threat of a shutdown was brought to his attention in October 2013, he said, “If it doesn’t smell, we can’t sell. If the city shuts us down, the price of sriracha will jump a lot.” At the time, this caused a panic among Huy Fong sriracha lovers, many of whom bought dozens of cases the tasty sauce, which could happen again should a shutdown of the factory happen. 

If you haven’t tried sriracha yet, now is the time to spice up your life with this sauce because your opportunities to do so may soon be limited.

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