The State of Washington Thursday shut down the region’s only fish pedicure procedure after determining it did not meet state codes requiring all pedicure implements to be sanitized or disposed of after use.
Peridot Nail Salon in Kent Station was the first establishment in the state to offer the procedure in which small, toothless carp eat away the dead skin from around the feet.
But officials from the State Department of Licensing hand-delivered a letter to the salon informing the owner of the state’s position on fish pedicures.
Salon owner Tuyet “Tweety” Bui said she was surprised to get the letter.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I was really shocked and disappointed.”
Bui said the procedure has been in use for years in Asia and for months on the East Coast.
“And all of a sudden the State of Washington said no,” she said.
According to the letter, because the fish pedicures include care for the skin and cuticles, the procedure falls under sanitation rules spelled out in the Washington Administrative Code. Those rules require that all tools and implements be sanitized, disinfected or disposed of after each client.
“Due to the inability of salons to meet these requirements in regards to the fish … these rules do not allow for fish pedicures in Washington State,” the letter reads.
Bui said officials from the state came to the shop last week after seeing news reports of the procedure. Bui said she showed them her process, which included washing the customer’s feet before putting them into a tank with the fish.
Bui also said she felt she had followed the guidelines, even turning down customers with what appeared to be a toe fungus.
The use of the unique procedure had bolstered business at Peridot by 30 percent, and led to bookings from customers as far away as Vancouver, B.C., Salem, Ore., and Idaho, but now Bui said she is worried about having to call all of her customers and tell them the news.
“My book was busy all the way out,” she said. “I’m saddened the state made a decision like that.”
Bui said she shut down the procedure immediately canceling five bookings Thursday, 13 for Friday and another 13 for Saturday. Bui said she would make the fish, which cost her $3,000 to import, into pets.
Brian Beckley can be reached at 253-437-6012 or firstname.lastname@example.org