Still Hope to Bring Sriracha Production to Philly?

There could still be hope for Philly to land the hottest sauce in the land.

Despite fiery words Wednesday night, the fate of the Southern California hot sauce factory that makes red rooster Sriracha sauce has yet to be decided as residents call the factory a public nuisance because of its spicy emissions.

The Irwindale City Council held a public hearing about Huy Fong Foods' Sriracha factory, but no agreement was reached over how to move forward with the business' alleged stench.

Last November, a judge ordered the plant to stop producing the smells until air-quality experts could determine how to mitigate them. But the Los Angeles suburb says residents have continued to complain about eye-stinging fumes.

After news came out last fall about the issues facing the California plant, Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney wrote a letter to the plant owner offering Huy Fong a home in Philadelphia.

Kenney said his original letter was written tongue-in-cheek but the tone quickly changed as the California smell dispute continued. Kenney said that he had a team working to find a potential spot for the factory if it actually did move east.

“Even if they don’t totally move out of California they would maybe like to think about expanding here," said Kenney.

Kenney’s office estimates that if full Sriracha production moved to Philly it would create 500 year-round jobs and another 500 jobs for the three months of main sauce production.

“It’s a significant amount of jobs for people who don’t have particularly high-tech skills,” Kenney said. “One of the things I’ve been pushing the city to do -- and they’re not doing it -- is trying to retain and attract jobs for people who don’t have college educations.

“These are the type of jobs -- although they’re not the glamorous high-tech jobs that everyone wants -- these are jobs that can hopefully feed families and pay bills.”

Kenney spokesman Chris Goy told Thursday that the councilman's office had stopped looking for a home for Sriracha as the company's interest in moving seemingly dried up. Goy said that if the California factory spat became more severe that Philly would be in the running.

As debates continue, the Irwindale City Council could find that the current plant is a public nuisance -- a step that at some point could lead to a shutdown order. But most people at Wednesday's meeting were searching for a solution, not for a shutdown.

Huy Fong Foods says it's proposed ways to deal with the problem and hopes residents will work to compromise.

In the meantime for anyone visiting Southern California, the factory recently began offering tours for Sriracha aficionados.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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