PHILADELPHIA — Herb Lotman, a food industry entrepreneur who with his partners developed a mass production system for frozen hamburgers for McDonald’s Corp. in the 1960s, has died.
Mr. Lotman, who was 80, died Thursday at a suburban Philadelphia hospital from complications of heart failure, his son Jeff Lotman said.
The Philadelphia native was the founder of Keystone Foods, one of the world’s largest food companies and supplier of McDonald’s burger patties, poultry and fish.
He started his career with his family’s wholesale beef business.
In the late 1960s, he and his partners pioneered cryogenics for McDonald’s, developing a mass-production system for frozen, pre-formed hamburgers.
It also had a role in developing McDonald’s popular Chicken McNuggets in the 1980s. The Kansas-based Meat Industry Hall of Fame calls Mr. Lotman “the inventor of Chicken McNuggets.”
Over 40 years, Mr. Lotman built Keystone Foods into a company with more than $5 billion in sales annually. Keystone opened operations in more than 15 countries and was 45th on Forbes’ list of America’s largest private companies in 2010.
McDonald’s lists Mr. Lotman as one of its “innovators and history makers.” On a history on its website, McDonald’s says of him:
“In the 1960s . . . Herb Lotman sought to find a way to freeze beef patties that would keep them at their peak of fresh taste and texture. This led him to pioneer a completely new Individual Quick Freezing process. Herb introduced the IQF hamburger patty to McDonald’s and made a deal with them to provide IQF burger patties.
“On the strength of this contract, Herb founded Keystone Foods, which today is one of the world’s biggest food companies.”
Mr. Lotman also co-founded the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, a major women’s professional golf association tournament, which benefited Ronald McDonald House Charities. The event has raised more than $48 million for the charities in the 29 years since its inauguration, making it the largest fundraiser in golf.
He also is survived by his wife Karen; a daughter, Shelly Fisher; a sister, Marlene Weinberg; and five grandchildren.