SEATTLE – Washington state officials have banned a procedure that uses tiny fish to nibble dead skin off the feet of customers getting pedicures.
Peridot Nail Salon in Kent began offering the procedure several weeks ago, with customers paying $30 to have small, toothless carp tickle their toes for 15 minutes.
But the state Department of Licensing decided the procedure was unsanitary and potentially unsafe, and Thursday declared it illegal.
Agency spokeswoman Christine Anthony says state law requires that all implements in pedicures be sanitized, and there's just no way to sanitize live fish.
Anthony says that to her knowledge, the Peridot salon was the only one in Washington offering the pedicures, which are popular in Turkey and Asia.
The owner, Tuyet Bui, says she hopes the state will reconsider. In the meantime, she'll take the fish home as pets.
Fish pedicures created something of a splash in the D.C. area this past summer, where a northern Virginia spa offered similar pedicures. John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife, Yvonne Le, began offering the practice in March and said 5,000 people had taken the plunge as of July.
Virginia state regulations make no provision for regulating fish pedicures. But the county health department — which does regulate pools — required the Ho's salon to switch from a shallow, tiled communal pool that served as many as eight people to individual tanks in which the water is changed for each customer.