Skip to Main Content

Student’s research reduces food waste by improving use-by dates


nbuhkani “Connie” Muniandy’s curiosity about food developed in her family’s kitchen in her small hometown of Simpang Renggam, Malaysia. While helping her mother prepare meals, she began to wonder why specific ingredient combinations had different outcomes.

Muniandy came to the United States in 2010 to study food science at Purdue. She joined a research lab in her second year as an undergraduate. She earned a master’s degree in food science from the University of Idaho before working in research and development at Mars Petcare in Tennessee for two years.

“That’s when I started to like food processing,” Muniandy recalled.

Muniandy in the lab

She returned to Purdue in 2017 to join the Process Modeling and Validation lab of Dharmendra Mishra, assistant professor of food science. Muniandy completed another master’s degree in food science with a food processing emphasis. Two years later, she began her doctoral program under Mishra’s guidance.

Muniandy’s research has helped develop innovative technology to help predict the shelf life of food and beverages. The custom equipment built for her study aims to reduce analysis time.

“Every food has an expiration date printed on the label,” Muniandy explained. “The way to decide those labels comes with a methodology that is universal across most foods. It takes months to complete.”

Muniandy noted “use-by” and “freeze-by” dates can confuse consumers, especially with their built-in cushions.

“My research is focused on shortening the analysis time so we can test products faster in efforts to increase accuracy.”

Because retail outlets cannot sell products beyond their expiration date, Muniandy’s research could lead to a reduction of waste at retail and consumer levels.

“I envision myself to be a leader in the food industry,” said Muniandy. “I want to prepare for that while I’m still in school.”

Muniandy has held leadership roles in the Purdue Student Government and served as president of the Hoosier Chapter of Phi Tau Sigma, the honor society for food science and technology. She also led Purdue teams in national product development contests including three top-three finishes in the American Society of Baking’s annual competition.  

Featured Stories

Purdue's bell tower stands tall behind a foreground of purple petunias
Purdue agriculture professors named AAAS Fellows

Purdue College of Agriculture professors Songlin Fei and Tesfaye Mengiste have been named fellows...

Read More
almonds on a table with almond milk
Homemade nut-based dairy analogs raise questions about bacterial risks

Many consumers know the food safety risks of dairy products, eggs and raw meat. But they are less...

Read More
Students working in the Skidmore Lab inside Nelson Hall of Food Science.
CH4 Global partners with Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute to combat methane emissions in the cattle industry

The Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute (FEMI), housed within Purdue...

Read More
Purdue MANRRS pose with chapter of the year award at MANRRS38
Purdue MANRRS receives chapter of the year award at national conference, making history

For the first time since its founding in 1990, the Purdue University College of...

Read More
A bottle of Boiler Bee Honey sits on the edge of chrome table in Skidmore lab with two students cooking in labcoats and hairnets in the background.
The sweet (and spicy) taste of victory—National Honey Board funds a food science development competition at Purdue

In the past few years, specialty sauces like hot honey combined the classic warm, sweet feeling...

Read More
lab grown meat
Survey tallies consumer attitudes toward lab-grown meat alternatives

Many consumers view conventional meats as both tastier and healthier than laboratory-grown...

Read More
To Top