Food Scientist Kathleen Harsh creates healthier baked goods for the public

Aug 7, 2023

by Kathleen Harsh

Introduce yourself and describe your work

I am a food scientist with a bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am passionate about the bakery industry and have ten years of experience at CPG, food service, and ingredient companies, culminating in my role as Innovation Manager at gluten free company BFree Foods.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or discovery?

I had the opportunity to develop clean label breads for a large fast food chain, removing chemicals that were banned in Europe from their breads. I believe this project and initiative had an impact on the American bread system overall, creating healthier baked goods for the public.

During times of imposter syndrome or feelings of discouragement, what or who helped you persevere?

I am grateful to have had support from colleagues past and present who encourage me to bring my authentic self to work every day and to persevere through hardships. I have benefited from amazing mentors, bosses, and friends in the industry who continuously challenge me to achieve my full potential.

How does your work impact people and the world around us?

It is a true joy to have a hand at making products that people can find on grocery store shelves from Walmart to Whole Foods to Costco. The products that I work on can make life more enjoyable for Celiac consumers as well as those looking for alternative snacks and baked goods.

What is a unique fact about your career/industry?

Food scientists are involved in every product you see on store shelves, from cereal to salad kits, making sure products are both safe and delicious!

What trends do you see in your industry?

Very exciting trends in the food industry include an opportunity for authentic flavors tied to distinct global locations, as well as nostalgic renovations of items many Americans have grown up with. Health conscious consumers are also looking for lower sugar products to balance their blood glucose.

What advice do you have for other women or nonbinary individuals considering this field?

Rely on your network and never burn bridges!