Herb Lotman, Food Pioneer Who Helped McDonald’s, Dies at 80

Herb Lotman, the Philadelphia businessman who founded Keystone Foods and developed a mass-production system for making McDonald’s Corp.’s frozen hamburgers, has died. He was 80.

Lotman died yesterday from complications of heart failure, according to a statement from his son, Jeff Lotman, released by PR Newswire.

Keystone Foods developed the first total distribution concept for McDonald’s with the use of cryogenics and helped conceive the Chicken McNugget in the 1980s. Over a 40-year period, Lotman turned Keystone into a multinational operation with $5 billion in sales, earning a rating among Forbes magazine’s list of America’s largest private companies in 2010.

“He was never too busy to advise or help young entrepreneurs and there were many that came to him for guidance over the years,” Jeff Lotman said in the statement.

Lotman was also a philanthropist, co-founding the McDonald’s LPGA Championship for women’s professional golf, a tournament that supported 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, the Associated Press said.

Lotman and his wife, Karen, also established the Macula Vision Research Foundation for people with retinal and macula diseases.

The food entrepreneur was a board member at the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he was chairman for 15 years. He also served on the boards of Getty Petroleum Corp. and First Union Corp.

Lotman is survived by his wife and two children, Shelly and Jeff.

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