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Monday, 21 August, 2000, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Vietnam airline bans 'smelly sauce'
beach, Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc claims to make the best nuoc mam
Vietnam's national airline has banned the country's famed fish sauce, nuoc mam, because it is too smelly, according to reports.

Nuoc mam may be a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, but it is getting right up some passengers' noses, airline officials say.

Reports say Vietnam Airlines ordered the crackdown on passengers transporting the sauce after a bottle broke on one of their planes.

The incident apparently caused furious protests from foreign tourists unaccustomed to the pungent aroma.

Airport security officials on the island of Phu Quoc, which is famed for its nuoc mam, have been told to watch out for sauce bottles as well as guns or explosives when they search baggage.

Corrosive

Phu Quoc claims to make the world's best nuoc mam and bottles of it are a popular souvenir.

But Vietnam Airlines official Nguyen Chan told the French AFP news agency they would have to ask passengers to leave the bottles behind.

"It's nothing against nuoc mam - international aviation regulations bar the transportation of anything strong-smelling," Mr Chan added.

He said there were also safety concerns because the high salt content in the sauce made it corrosive.

Nuoc mam is made by leaving small fish to ferment for six months to a year in large barrels of sea salt and water.

Another south-east Asian delicacy, the durian fruit, has also been banned from airlines because of its smell.

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