Fermentation involves the chemical breakdown of a substance using bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms and it typically creates some bubbles and a little heat. And when it’s applied in making food and beverages, it can get a little stinky.
That’s not going to stop Illinois-based food manufacturer 5000 Years Foods from relocating its kimchi factory to Des Plaines. The fermented cabbage maker is taking over a building that formerly housed a carpet and drapery store. But that’s only after months of debate over whether 5000 Years Foods operations would make the neighborhood unbearably odorous.
According to the Daily Herald, some alders in the area raised concerns during public meetings about the potential smell. But a legal representative for 5000 Years assured them that his clients would keep the foul smells to a minimum. That’s because the company uses a cold process to make its kimchi in sealed containers using raw vegetables. And as a condition of the approval, 5000 Years agreed to quarterly health and sanitation inspections, and to adhere to noise and odor standards.
Ultimately, the planned move for 5000 Years was supported by every alder except one, who warned, “I think we’re tapping into a problem that’s going to blossom out. I hope I’m wrong.”
This is not the first time 5000 Years has run into regulatory concerns. In 2021, the company issued a recall for its sliced cabbage kimchi over concerns of possible listeria contamination. No injuries were reported in association with the recall.
But as long as the multi-billion dollar global market for kimchi continues to grow, manufacturers will keep making the fermented cabbage and people will keep having to deal with some possible pungence.