Pieternel Luning studied Food Chemistry and Microbiology at the Wageningen University (WU) in the Netherlands. After her study, she worked as post MSc graduate on a flavour project for the food industry followed by a function as project manager at the (now-called) Food & Biobased Research, where she did her PhD on flavour of fresh and processed bell peppers. Thereafter, she worked as post-doc in flavour research for Unilever Vlaardingen. Subsequently, she was employed as product Manager "Innovative Packaging" at TNO Research and Nutrition Institute. Since 1999, she is engaged in the Food Quality & Design group at Wageningen University, and has become Associate Professor since 2006.
Pieternel co-founded the 2-years interdisciplinary master program Food Quality Management (2003), which yearly attracts circa 40 MSc students from Europe and beyond. She is a permanent member of the program committee board Food Quality Management & Food Safety. Since 2006, she developed an interdisciplinary research program in Food Quality Management, with the techno-managerial approach as leading research methodology. It comprises the integrated analysis of food and human behaviour and their impact on food quality, safety and integrity.
The main research area include topics as effectiveness of food safety management systems, risk-based food integrity management, food safety culture, food safety governance in emerging countries, food consumption quality and waste, food integrity and fraud, and food product development. In these projects, diagnostic and systemic tools are being developed using conceptual modelling, systems dynamics, agent-based modelling and serious gaming as methods to study the performance and dynamics of the socio-technical systems and how they affect food safety, quality and integrity in view of the particular food business context.
Currently, she is supervising/co-promotor of 11 PhDs. She participated/is still participating in multiple European, National and Global projects including PathogenCombat (6th EU), Veg-i-trade (7th EU), PROFETAS (STW, Dutch), Sensory Specific Satiation (STW, Dutch), NWO-WOTRO LIQUID (Global), and multiple fellows (NUFFIC), and business PhD projects.
She co-developed (2015-0216) with her colleagues (professor in food authenticity (FQD) and professor in criminology VU Amsterdam) the Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment tool for the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Moreover, she is member of the Technical Working Group that is drafting the GSFI Food Safety Culture position paper for the food industry (2016-2018). She is also co-founder and member of the Food Safety Culture science group Salus in which more than 20 scientists from Europe, North America and Africa participate.
She is author of two books about Food Quality Management; technological and managerial principles and practices (translated in five languages), and editor of the book Safety in agri-food chains, and she wrote multiple scientific articles and book chapters on e.g. food safety standards in the fresh produce supply chain, influence of context on food safety governance, determining farm related food safety risks.