I was born in South Africa and from an early age, my parents taught us to save water. We went on a lot of wild camping trips. And at school in Germany, I set up a group called ‘Die Grünis’ with my best friend Mira – we told people not to throw away their old batteries.

Plastic (c) istock

Ranking threats

Packaging protects food but can also be a source of chemical contamination. Chemicals in packaging can leach into food, resulting in chronic exposure. Even at low levels, some can interfere with hormone systems and development.

A new project supported by MAVA that will assess and rank the health threats of certain hazardous chemical additives in common plastic packaging, goes to the heart of Food Packaging Forum’s modus operandi – empowerment of decision-makers. It will educate business experts and legislators about the hazards, identify opportunities for substitution, and enable informed decision-making that benefits human health and the environment.

Plastic-making produces by-products whose impacts we often know nothing about – there are many known unknowns! Anything that isn’t chemically bound to the polymers used in packaging, from juice containers to croissant wrappers, is a potential risk.

Now hear this

More than securing an illustrious Scientific Advisory Board, whose collective wisdom on the scientific challenges of food packaging risk assessment appears in Environmental Health Perspectives, Jane’s biggest achievement has been getting people to listen. Whether donors, businesses, NGOs or the European Parliament, people are taking notice, looking for guidance through the complexity and ways to reassure consumers.


My vision is a new comprehensive chemical safety test that looks beyond carcinogenic effects and covers cardio vascular, metabolic, reproductive and neurological impacts. Materials meeting criteria in this kind of test would probably be much safer. It’s a complex undertaking that needs collaboration between many different experts.

Redesigning plastics

Redesigning plastics and eliminating toxicity is a priority for MAVA and fundamental to achieving a circular economy. Jane and Food Packaging Forum are spotlighting the problem and strategically shaping the debate. Read about MAVA’s action plan on this subject.

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