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The Sriracha hot sauce factory has been forced to shut down (for now)

(Image: AP Photo/Nick Ut)

(Image: AP Photo/Nick Ut)

It’s a dark day for chiliheads: after weeks of uncertainty, a Los Angeles county judge has ordered Huy Fong Foods, the company that makes Sriracha, to cease all odour-producing operations. The order comes after residents of Irwindale, the city where the sauce is made, filed a lawsuit claiming that noxious chili fumes were causing migraines, heartburn and involuntary crying, and basically making it miserable to be outdoors. Judge Robert O’Brien called the factory’s fumes “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses” and urged the company to “make changes immediately in its site operations reducing odours and the potential for odours.”

It’s not entirely clear what the order means in the short-term for Huy Fong, which finished grinding up chilis for next year’s hot-sauce supply earlier in the month and has now moved on to the potentially less smelly mixing and bottling stages. In the long term, the company is facing an end-of-days scenario if it can’t reign in its fumes. Part of the problem seems to be the mysterious nature of the chili vapours, which are apparently strong enough to cause bloody noses miles away, but gentle enough to have zero effect on visiting CNN reporters who held their faces directly above the factory’s air vents. The lawsuit goes to trial in a few months; in the meantime, hot sauce lovers may want to consider stocking up. [Los Angeles Times]