DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. – Sara Lee Corp. said Brenda Barnes, chairman and chief executive officer who has been on a temporary medical leave of absence, is recovering from a stroke.

“I know there has been a lot of speculation on my condition, so I want to take the opportunity to provide some details,” Barnes said. “I suffered a stroke a few weeks ago, and I am now in the process of recuperating.”

The company intends to provide an update on Barnes’ condition and her future plans by its end-of-year earnings call on Aug. 12.

On May 14, Sara Lee’s board of directors named Marcel Smits, executive vice president and chief financial officer, as interim chief executive officer, and James S. Crown, lead independent director, assumed the role of chairman. The company also formed an Office of the Chairman comprised of Crown, Smits and Christopher John (C.J.) Fraleigh, chief executive officer of North American Retail and Foodservice.

“I’m pleased to see how effectively our interim team is performing in executing our ongoing strategy and moving the company forward during my absence,” Barnes said. “I’m fully confident in this team and grateful for their expertise and leadership during this time, and also want to thank everyone for their thoughts and support during my absence. It’s truly appreciated.”

“We’re pleased to know that Brenda is on the mend and we wish her a speedy recovery,” Crown said. “On behalf of the entire board of directors, I’d like to thank the dedicated senior leaders at Sara Lee who continue to do an excellent job in Brenda’s absence.”