NEW YORK — Paula Deen lost another part of her empire on Monday: Smithfield Foods said it is dropping her as a spokeswoman. The announcement came days after the Food Network said it would not renew the celebrity cook’s contract in the wake of revelations that she used racial slurs in the past.
Smithfield sold Deen-branded hams in addition to using her as a spokeswoman. In a statement, the company said it “condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind.”
QVC also said it was reviewing its deal with Paula Deen Enterprises to sell the star’s cookbooks and cookware. Several retailers, which sell Paula Deen cookware, were taking a wait-and-see approach.
Sears Holdings Corp. said it “is currently exploring next steps as they pertain to Ms. Deen’s products.” Target Corp. said it is “evaluating the situation.” Meyer Corp., which produces the cookware under the Paula Deen brand, declined to comment.
Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of The Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, said stores may have a tougher time determining whether to cut ties. Brochstein said they are likely watching sales of the merchandise and monitoring social media as they gauge how consumers respond.
Deen’s rapid fall from favor came after the 66-year-old Food Network star admitted in a deposition in a discrimination lawsuit that she used racial slurs in the past. Deen has apologized. She is scheduled to appear Wednesday on NBC’s “Today.”