Another Industry Gets Nibbled Away: Foot-Eating Fish Pedicures Outlawed

Fish PedicuresIt's usually a sad day when an entire industry shuts down in a specific area and its workers are laid off, but when it comes to a certain salon in Canada, it might be better for employees to seek work elsewhere. Health officials have ordered the proprietor of British Columbia's only spa that has fish pedicures, where flesh-eating fish nibble dead skin off clients' feet, to cease the practice or face fines and perhaps jail time.

Apparently the procedure is popular in Europe and Asia as well as two territories in Canada. A handful of U.S. states allow them, although 14 states, including Texas and Florida, have banned them. Add Canada's British Columbia to the list of places where they're illegal, according to CTV News. Government health authorities say that the procedure is unsanitary and could spread life-threatening diseases. Purple Orchid Spa owner Dixie Simpson, who, along with her employees, might have to find another way to make a living, begs to differ.

Simpson says that at least 700 clients have had the service performed over the past year, and no complaints or problems have been reported.

The procedure in question involves tanks full of live garra rufa fish, which are also called "Doctor Fish." Clients stick their bare feet in the tanks and the fish nibble away at the dead skin. It's one alternative to a loofah or other callus-removal method. Simpson says that most clients like the feel of little fish gnawing on their toes.

She also notes that the tanks are kept extremely clean, thanks to oxygen bubbling through it constantly and a special ultraviolet concentration system that kills bacteria. Of course, one would imagine that there's still floating fish poop to contend with.

Since these fishy pedicures account for at least a third of her business, Simpson says that she might have to close shop and lay off all her employees, and she doesn't think it's right for the government to have that kind of power over her business. And her local member of Parliament agrees -- he has asked the local health authority to reconsider its ruling.

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