updated 12/15/2006 7:40:10 PM ET 2006-12-16T00:40:10

The maker of the world famous Tabasco hot pepper sauce has scrapped plans for a museum to pay for a more urgent need: the building of a levee to protect itself from another hurricane.

McIlhenny Co. will shore up its Avery Island facility in Louisiana, 15 months after Hurricane Rita's tidal surge came within inches of flooding the plant and halting production of Tabasco, The Times-Picayune newspaper reported Thursday.

The plant, which sits over 9 feet above sea level and 13 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, will be protected by a 17-foot levee that will cost $4.5 million.

"We've got to protect the nation from bland food," company vice president Tony Simmons said.

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