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Sriracha Factory Owes City Of Irwindale $400,000, According To Lawsuit

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
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Just when you thought it was safe to stop stockpiling Sriracha, the city of Irwindale has filed another lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods, the company behind the legendary hot sauce. The legal skirmishes between the condiment company and the small industrial city east of downtown first made headlines in fall 2013, when the city of Irwindale (home to the Sriracha factory) tried to halt production at the factory, arguing that it created a "public nuisance," and that the strong chili odor was making residents sick.

The city claimed that "the odors [were] so strong and offensive as to have caused residents to move outdoor activities indoors and even to vacate their residences temporarily to seek relief from the odors,'' in their 2013 lawsuit. Shipments of the iconic, fiery hot sauce were briefly halted by the California Department of Health, sparking global fears of a coming Sriracha shortage.

Now, more than two years after dropping their original lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods, the city of Irwindale has once again filed suit against the company, alleging that they are owed more than $400,000 in unpaid fees, according to the Daily News.

The Daily News reports that, according to the city, Huy Fong Foods has failed to abide by a 2009 agreement where the company agreed to make 10 payments of $250,000 over 10 years in lieu of paying taxes to the city. The payments are due every January, and after completing payments on schedule for the first three years, the company allegedly failed to pay in 2015 or 2016.

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Irwindale City Attorney Fred Galante told LAist that the city had already tried to obtain payment "countless" times before they decided to take legal action. "We've met at their offices and we’ve sent them letters requesting payment. But they’ve made it very clear that they won’t pay us," Galante said.

"I think that they are still frustrated that we pursued legal action when they were creating the excess odors related to their chili crushing operation," Galante said. "They’re frustrated that we protected our residents and now they’ve arbitrarily decided to stop paying."

We presumed Huy Fong Foods would deny the allegations, or at least make up some other reason for why they hadn't paid up. We thought wrong. In fact, that "public nuisance" kerfuffle of years past is exactly why they won't pay.

Here's what David Tran, CEO and founder of Huy Fong Foods, told LAist:

From the very beginning, I offered to contribute $250,000 per year for 10 years for the benefit of the Irwindale Community through the City of Irwindale. But because we had this odor issue where all five of the City Council members unanimously declared us a public nuisance, without real basis, I feel that Huy Fong Foods is being treated unfairly so I stop the contributions.

Note: This post was first updated to include an interview with Irwindale City Attorney Fred Galante and later updated to include a statement from Huy Fong Foods.

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