May 29, 2014 | 1
Sriracha fans, you can breathe easy (and stop hoarding bottles of chili sauce)—the #srirachapocalypse has definitively ended. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported yesterday that the city of Irwindale, Calif. dropped its lawsuit and public nuisance complaint against Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods.
The legal conflict between Irwindale and Huy Fong began last fall when residents complained of eye and throat irritation caused by a foul smell exuded by the factory during its chili-grinding season. The company defended its sauce in court, but a judge ultimately ruled in favor of the city and told Huy Fong to fix its odor problem. After nine months, both parties have cooled off; the city voted to halt legal action and Huy Fong has installed a more powerful air filtration system, which factory owner David Tran tested out with pepper spray.
At the heart of the Sriracha debate is a fiery chili pepper compound called capsaicin. Though Huy Fong hung a banner outside its factory last year that stated “No tear gas made here,” there’s no doubt that capsaicin could have made the townspeople cry, as Scientific American reported in February. The irritating chemical interacts with temperature receptors on the body and tricks your brain into thinking you’re burning.