Chilli Sauce Shipping Ban Has Foodie Fans Hot and Bothered

A ban on shipping one of the big food trends of recent years has sent waves of panic through foodie circles.

Supplies of Sriracha chilli sauce, which appears on dining tables at trendy Australian restaurants such as Ms. G’s in Sydney’s Potts Point, have been halted after health officials in California insisted that the sauce be held for 30 days before shipping.

The Huy Fong brand, with its rooster logo and squeezable red bottle, is made in California.

Because it’s simply mashed raw jalapeno chillies, blended with garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar, California Department of Health officials reviewed the production methods earlier this year and insisted the sauce cannot be shipped fresh and must be withheld to test for bacteria.

The Thai-style “Rooster sauce”, as it’s known in foodie circles, has been produced by Huy Fong Foods for more than three decades and has a cult following.

The Pasadena Star News reported that the new rules came in last Monday, meaning new batches of the sauce won’t leave the factory until mid-January.

A Vietnamese refugee, David Tran, began making Sriracha in Los Angeles’ Chinatown in 1980. It went on to become a global phenomenon. Last year, a new $40 million factory, double the size of the previous one, opened to cope with demand, attracting greater scrutiny in the process.

Earlier this year, an LA court ordered the company halt production following complaints from residents about the smell. This latest intervention by health officials adds to the family-run company’s woes, but also sent shockwaves through its global fan base.

As news of the pending shortage spread the foodie circles, the #Srirachapocalypse hashtag emerged on Twitter as worried fans stocked up.

Meanwhile, the sauce’s popularity is such at a 33-documentary on its history was made. American Griffin Hammond used Kickstarter funding to produce the documentary – receiving $21,000 when his initial target was $5,000, to produce it.

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