Florida regulators ban fish pedicures

Update to Flesh-eating fish give pedicures

Fish pedicures, a novelty service in which tiny carp nibble dead skin off feet, have been banned in Florida.

At its meeting late last month, the Florida Board of Cosmetology decided that fish pedicures would not be permitted in Florida cosmetology salons, said Alexis Antonacci, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The board determined that fish pedicures violate two previously standing rules, she said. One rule prohibits animals or pets in salons, excluding those trained to assist the physically disabled. The other sets standards for pedicure sanitation requirements. Officials are concerned because there is no way to disinfect a pool of fish between services. Several other states have banned the procedure, including Texas, Washington, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Only “about a handful” of Florida salons offer fish pedicures, said Antonacci. Among them is The Spa in Orlando’s Ivanhoe Village, which introduced the service last October.

“I’ve heard rumors about a ban, but have had no official notification,” said Andy Swart, owner of The Spa, where fish pedicures are among the most popular services. He said he is undecided whether he will cease offering the pedicures immediately, or wait for notification from a health department inspector.

The decision by the Board of Cosmetology to ban fish pedicures “is step one,” said Antonacci. “Next, inspectors will be informing [salon owners] of the decision, but they should cease the service immediately.”

If salons are found performing fish pedicures, the salon and the cosmetologist may be subject to fines, she said.

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Early last year, when fish pedicures were first introduced to the United States, there were no regulations relating to the service in Florida, Antonacci said. Spas were simply required to follow health codes for pedicure stations. Included was a requirement that tools be sanitized after each use.

“I asked the Department of Health about the sanitation of tools,” said Swart. “They said they would not consider fish tools.”

SOURCE: OrlandoSentinel.com