Rising sea levels threaten Tabasco sauce production

The Louisiana island where the iconic sauce is produced is losing 30 feet of coastline a year

Rising sea levels threaten Tabasco sauce production

Image: Tabasco.com

Tabasco sauce as we know it could be slowly vanishing from our dinner tables as rising coastlines have a dramatic effect on its habitat.

Since 1868 the iconic red pepper sauce has been created on Avery Island in Louisiana, USA - a hill of salt which is one of the highest points in the state.

But as 30 feet of coastline is eroded every year, the marshland which protects the island is under threat from salty brine which kills off vegetation.

It is feared that an almost inevitable rise in sea levels will harm the planting grounds for the chilli peppers and damage salt mines on the 2,200-acre island.

The coastal region of Louisiana is seeing land the size of a football pitch disappear under water every hour.

Tony Simmons, the seventh consecutive McIlhenny family member to lead the company, told the Guardian: "It does worry us, and we are working hard to minimise the land loss."

"We want to protect the marsh because the marsh protects us," he said.

"I mean, we could make Tabasco somewhere else. But this is more than a business, this is our home."

Mr Simmons said he does not think it will get to the point where the company is forced off the island, but it is doing everything it can to prevent it.

The firm has been planting grass to try and curb the saltwater erosion and has also teamed up with America's Wetland Foundation to raise awareness of the plight of the region by printing a message detailing what is happening on its bottles.

After early fans of the sauce - which ranges between 2,500 to 5,000 units on the Scoville scale which measures the spiciness of chillies - complained about the heat, founder Edmund McIlhenny attached a sprinkler-style top to the bottles to restrict the pour.

The Tabasco chilli peppers that make up the bulk of the sauce change colour before reaching peak flavour and heat.