SMITHFIELD, Va. – Smithfield Foods, Inc. announced it has severed its business relationship with celebrity chef Paula Deen. Since 2006, Smithfield and Deen have collaborated on a product line that included a ham with her glaze.
In a statement released June 24, Smithfield, the world’s largest pork processor, stated: "Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen. 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, the owner of The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, Ga., has been embroiled in controversy over her past use of a racial slur. Deen admitted to using racial slurs during a deposition for a $1.2 million civil suit filed by a former employee against Deen and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers, for sexual and racial harassment.
The Food Network announced it would not renew Deen's contract, which expires at the end of June. She has posted a series of videos apologizing for her conduct.
This isn’t the first time Deen has come under fire. She was sometimes criticized for her Southern comfort food cooking, which often included a pound of bacon or a stick of butter as ingredients. In January 2012, she announced she had Type 2 diabetes — three years after she was first diagnosed. She also was criticized after forging a business partnership with a diabetes drug maker.