BILL NUMBER: S6205
TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the general business law, in relation to the use of live fish in pedicure procedures
Bans the use of live fish in pedicure procedures.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS :
Section 1 adds a new § 404-b to the General Business Law that prohibits appearance enhancement businesses from performing pedicure procedures using live fish. This section imposes a civil penalty of no more than $250 for the first offense and makes any subsequent offenses a class B misdemeanor.
Section 2 provides for an effective date 180 days after this bill becomes law.
In July 2008 a beauty salon in Alexandria, Virginia, became the first in the United States to offer a procedure termed a "fish pedicure". In this procedure, customers place their feet in a tank filled with small fish. The fish proceed to eat the dead flaky skin of the feet, which supposedly leads to smoother skin. This idea originated in Turkey many years ago and then spread to Japan, then China and the rest of the Far East.
This procedure does not conform with the spirit of current standards of hygiene and sanitation at beauty enhancement businesses in New York State. Given the exotic nature of this procedure, current rules and regulations do not address the many sanitary and hygienic concerns that stem from this practice. There have been reports linking this procedure to fungal infections in Singapore. Tools used in cosmetological procedures must be sanitized thoroughly according to New York State regulations, but it is impossible to sanitize small fish without destroying them. The spread of deadly bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA) is known to be a possibility if pedicure procedures do not conform to strict sanitary guidelines. Concerns about sanitation have led over fourteen states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, Texas, and Florida to ban this procedure.
Troubling questions are also raised about what happens if the action of these fish cause an individual to bleed into the water, either due to the accidental opening of pre-existing wounds or lesions, or from a fish bite, since some of the small fish used in these procedures can grow teeth as they age, allowing them to bite hard enough to draw blood.
There are also concerns about the treatment of the fish themselves. This skin eating behavior in the wild is the result of fish living in nutrient poor environments - these fish attack the skin out of desperation for food. It would be inhumane to keep animals in a state of starvation in order to have them become more effective exfoliating agents. There are also concerns about what is to become of the fish after they are no longer useful for this procedure and how business would care for them or dispose of them.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : New bill. FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None to the state.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This act shall take effect on the hundred eightieth day after it shall become law.