By Leila Samodien

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has banned the use of Botox after it discovered that an enzyme derived from pig's milk is used in the production of the serum.

Botox is a protein injection used to smooth out wrinkles.

The head of the MJC's Fatwa committee, Moulana Yusuf Karaan, said the use or consumption of any substance from pigs was forbidden in Islam.

Their decision was in line with a ruling by the National Fatwa Council in Malaysia two years ago, which also banned the beauty product, he said.

But Gerald Seftel, chief executive of Genop Healthcare, which is the sole distributor of Botox in South Africa, said the final Botox product did not contain any pig-derived enzymes.

"The manufacturing process includes the growing of bacteria using cultures containing enzymes derived from pig's milk.

It then goes through a highly specialised purification process which removes the enzyme, producing a purified medical protein," he said.

The final purified protein was called Botulinum toxin, the active ingredient in Botox.

Their product was received from Allergan, the Botox manufacturer, which was licensed to make Botox and "produced a product of the highest standard", Seftel added.

Karaan, however, was not convinced by the distributor's argument, saying the use of the pig's milk enzyme contaminated the other ingredients.

"Originally, milk from a pig is used for the production and from that point of view, it is banned for Muslims.

"If you use anything from a pig in any medicine or beauty product, it is taboo in Islam.

"Even if it is later taken out, the other ingredients would still be contaminated," Karaan said.

Only in rare cases were Muslims permitted to use products that contained pig's substances.

This included severe medical conditions, which threatened the person's life and for which there was no alternative medication.

"In the case of Botox, it is simply for beauty's sake," said Karaan.