June 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM ET
Paula Deen’s business empire continued to crumble Monday when Smithfield Foods announced it would cut its seven-year partnership with the fallen Food Network star. Deen famously promoted Smithfield hams in many of her recipes and has a line of pork products with the company, which said it was “terminating” its ties because of Deen’s admitted past use of racist slurs.
"Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind,” company vice president Keira Lombardo said in a statement. She later went on to say: “Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food industry leader and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned.”
Deen and Smithfield have worked together since September 2006.
Deen was also dropped by the Food Network, which announced Friday it would not renew her contract in the wake of controversy surrounding a May 17 deposition related to a lawsuit filed by a former employee who claimed she worked in an environment rife with prejudice and racial slurs, and that Deen considered planning a “plantation”-themed wedding in 2007. Deen later admitted in court testimony to have used N-word in the past.
On Friday, she posted three short videos on YouTube apologizing for using “inappropriate, hurtful language,’’ and for failing to show up for the scheduled interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer. She is now scheduled for another interview with Lauer on TODAY Wednesday.
While many fans have expressed their support for Deen, other companies she partners with, like QVC, are also reconsidering their relationship with the Southern star.
“QVC shares the concerns being raised around the unfortunate Paula Deen situation,’’ QVC vice president of corporate communications Paul Capelli said in a statement over the weekend. “QVC does not tolerate discriminatory behavior. We are closely monitoring these events and the ongoing litigation. We are reviewing our business relationship with Ms. Deen, and in the meantime, we have no immediate plans to have her appear on QVC.”