Neighbors to the plant testified that they were experiencing breathing difficulties from capsaicin mist. Capsaicin is an active compound in chili peppers that is irritating to humans and other mammals. Last month, a California judge ordered Tran to stop grinding chilis at the plant until the issues could be ironed out, though ultimately the ruling didn’t impact production because Tran had already ground all the chilis he needs for the coming year’s production.
Tran felt baffled by the city’s suit against him, telling the Pasadena Star-News that “we don’t make tear gas here.” He added an in open letter that he’s just a humble entrepreneur interested in creating jobs and supporting American-made products.
Tran wrote that he had an “odd feeling” after signing an economic development deal with the city to build a plant there, especially when the odor complaints came up shortly after he opened the doors.
“After the odor complaints from last year, I believed the City of Irwindale acted severely toward us without a real investigation into the matter,” he wrote.