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Hot Topic: Spicy Sriracha Sauce Shortage Burns Fans

A shortage of Sriracha hot sauce looms.

Credit: Norcross Patch
Credit: Norcross Patch

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I first encountered Sriracha, a now-popular Thai chili sauce, two decades ago while working as a cocktail waitress. Of the bar snacks we offered, the biggest crowd-pleaser was a basket of fries with Sriracha ketchup.

I left that job after two years, but I never left the Sriracha.

It looks like it’s abandoning me, however—at least temporarily. Sriracha’s California-based manufacturers, Huy Fong Foods, still on shaky ground after nearly being forced to close their plant due to complaints of immensely spicy odors, has just been ordered by the state’s Department of Public Health to halt shipments. Huy Fong Foods must comply with stricter health guidelines, requiring a 30-day wait before sending any more sauce to its distributers. According to Anita Gore, a health department spokeswoman, “Holding products for a period of time at a specified pH level is one method of controlling those micro organisms.” Gore is referring to the possible bacteria resulting from the fact that ingredients used in Sriracha sauce are only mashed and blended, not cooked

Donna Lam, the executive operations officer for Huy Fong Foods says, “It’s not a bad product. It’s strictly regulations.” Millions of consumers agree.

But at this rate, condiment aisles won’t be restocked with the spicy, garlicky goodness of Sriracha until mid-January.

For the past twenty years (ever since that short-lived waitressing career), I’ve brought Sriracha-spiced guacamole to my family’s Christmas Eve bash. What’s to become of us this year?

One bold opportunist is attempting to sell one, single packet of the fiery sauce for $10,000 on E-bay. The seller explains, "I know you're saying, '$10,000 for a pack of Sriracha? That's crazy!' Well guess what, when the zombie apocalypse arrives and you're out of Sriracha, which are you gonna miss more—Sriracha for that rodent you just cooked, or the $10,000?"

The hashtag #srirachapocalypse has been gaining a lot of momentum, but for $10,000 I can make due with Tabasco.

What sauce could you not do without? Tell us in the comments or in a blog post.

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