Palm weevil larvae served at the Mai An Tiem restaurant in the southern province of Ben Tre. Photo credit: Mau Truong/Tuoi Tre
A restaurant in Ben Tre Province has become the first to be fined for serving sago worms, considered a delicacy in southern Vietnam, as local authorities began to enforce a new decree on protecting plants from insects.
Pham The Hien, owner of the restaurant Mai An Tiem, was ordered to pay VND6 million (US$26.8) for violating the ban on sale of "harmful creatures," local media reported.
Earlier on July 21, agricultural inspectors and police checked the restaurant and caught it serving larvae of the palm weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, also known as sago worms, to some customers.
Hien said he bought them from local residents and sold each worm for VND10,000.
The new decree, which came into effect on June 25, does not list particular insects among the "harmful creatures" that must be controlled.
It is believed that Ben Tre officials try to ban sago worms to curb demand and supply.
Vietnam has about 200,000 hectares of coconut trees. Ben Tre, known as the country's coconut capital, is home to the largest area with more than 68,000 hectares.