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Sriracha Shipments Blocked by Calif. Health Dept.

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on December 12, 2013 2:55 PM

It's been a rough year for rooster sauce. Sriracha hot sauce manufacturer Huy Fong Foods has been told by the California Department of Public Health that its sauces must be held for 30 days to comply with the state's health guidelines.

This hold effectively freezes distribution of the popular hot sauce until next year, so what's California's deal with Sriracha?

Health Dept. Enforces Stricter Guidelines

Anita Gore, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health, told The Associated Press that the order to hold Sriracha (and Huy Fong Foods two other sauces) for 30 days was made "after state officials reviewed the way its sauces are produced."

According to Gore, this is to "ensure an effective treatment of microorganisms present in the product." Under both California and federal food safety regulations, food that has potential to be contaminated by microorganisms needs to be treated and packaged in such a way that reduces this risk of cooties in your condiments.

One method of doing so is controlling the pH of the food product, which Gore recommended in an email to the AP. So while Huy Fong Foods spends the next month keeping Sriracha pH at a level that prevents botulism or salmonella poisoning, stores and restaurants may be out of luck.

The lack of rooster sauce has already flamed tempers with Huy Fong Foods' customer base, with Damon Chu of food supplier Giant Union citing a potential $300,000 loss in business, reports the AP.

Bad Luck and Breach of Contract

Many Sriracha fans might believe that it's a bit more than a coincidence that the Department of Public Health hammer didn't come down until this month, only a few weeks after Sriracha's loss in court to the City of Irwindale. It's possible that as part of complying with the order to mitigate the sauce plant's fiery fumes, Huy Fong Foods needed to have a thorough inspection of their production methods by state health officials.

Regardless of the reason, Huy Fong Foods may be in hot, garlicky legal trouble over its contracts to provide Sriracha to various clients. And since Huy Fong Foods ships the sauce as its bottled, suppliers like Giant Union have no backlog of the popular condiment, reports the AP.

So if you're looking to spice up your December with Sriracha, don't be surprised if it's out of stock.

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