Deen dropped by Smithfield
6/26/2013, 10:24 a.m.
The Virgina-based company said it was dropping Deen as a spokeswoman. The move came days after the Food Network announced it would not renew Deen’s contract after revelations that she used racial slurs in the past.
In a statement, Smithfield said it “condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen.”
That move didn’t go over well with Deen’s two sons.
“Neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted toward any other person for any reason,” said Bobby Deen, in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “Our mother is one of the most compassionate, good-hearted, empathetic people that you’d ever meet. These accusations are hurtful to her, and it’s very sad.”
Deen, who’s involved in a discrimination suit against two of her restaurants, admitted using the “N-word” years ago, the Washington Times and court documents revealed. But her sons — celebrity chefs with their own television shows — say the plaintiff in the case is only trying to skim from the family’s bank accounts.
The 66-year-old Deen is being sued by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House. Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, own the Savannah restaurant where Jackson alleges she was sexually harassed and heard racial slurs.
Bobby Deen said he was “disgusted by the entire thing, because it began as extortion, and it has become character assassination,” CNN reported.
Brother Jamie Deen was quoted by the Times as saying:
“It’s ridiculous, completely absurd to think there is an environment of racism in our business, and it’s really disrespectful to the people that we work with. We have strong, educated men and women of character that have been with us for five, 10, 15, 20 years. To think they would allow themselves to be in this position is simply baloney.”
Smithfield and Deen have had close business relations for years. In 2006, she and the company launched a campaign to promote meals that encourage families to spend more time eating together.
Deen said at the time that she chose Smithfield as her partner “…because I’ve been using Smithfield products for years. This is a company I can trust.”
Smithfield is in the process of negotiating a $7.1 billion sale to Shuanghui International Holdings – a deal that would be the largest purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm.