State Capitol News
1:24 pm
Tue December 1, 2009

Lawsuit filed over fish pedicures

Phoenix, AZ – So here's a question to ponder over your Wheaties: Can a fish
perform a pedicure?

State law allows the Board of Cosmetology to regulate who can
perform pedicures and the safety practices they have to follow.
For example, tools used on customers have to be sanitzed between
uses to prevent infection from one person to another. But Cindy
Vong said none of that applies to a service she offers her
patrons to have Garra Rufa fish -- small carp without teeth --
nibble at their feet to remove dead skin.

The board disagreed and
threatened her with potential jail. So she halted the practice
and on Monday filed suit. Attorney Clint Bolick of the Goldwater
Institute which is representing her said the board is off base.

"A pedicure is exactly what most people think of as a pedicure,
where tools are used to remove skin from the feet. This is
similar to a pedicure except that you're using fish to accomplish
a similar end."

Bolick said Vong takes precautions to protect health, including
individual tanks with fresh water each time. And he said there's
no evidence fish transmit diseases from one customer to another.

"It's much safer than wading into a lake, for example. And we
don't see public health officials shutting down lakes because of
the contact that fish might have with multiple human beings."

The board's executive director declined to comment on the
lawsuit.