Smithfield Axes Paula Deen

Pork producer is second company to drop embattled celebrity cook as racial slur controversy grows.

Paula Deen's business woes continue to worsen as a second business partner ended their association with the celebrity chef over her use of racial slurs.

Smithfield Foods, Inc., the largest pork producer in the United States, issued a statement Monday saying that the company and Deen were no longer in partnership. This follows in the wake of the announcement Friday that the Food Network would not renew Deen's contract which is set to expire at the end of June.

Smithfield, headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia, produced a line of hams under the Paula Deen Collection label. Deen and Smithfield have worked together since 2006.

"Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen,” company vice president Keira Lombardo said in the statement, adding, "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.”

The announcement comes ahead of a newly scheduled interview Deen is set to take part in on the "Today" show Wednesday, following her no-show Friday for a sit down with Matt Lauer to discuss revelations that emerged from a May 17 deposition in which she admitted using racial slurs, particularly the N-word.

Her deposition is part of a $1.2 million lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah. Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers own the restaurant. In the lawsuit Jackson claims she was sexually harassed by Hiers and that Deen used the N-word around her.

Just how many other businesses will follow Smithfield remains to be seen, but in what could be a prophetic interview with the Los Angeles Times published Sunday, author Allen Salkin, who is in the process of finalizing work a new book titled, "From Scratch: Inside the Food Network," and who has interviewed Deen extensively said of her business future:

"If Smithfield Hams makes an announcement that she’s no longer their sponsor, then we’ll realize this whole thing is crumbling down around her. But if you look on Twitter, you look across the Web, there are many people rushing to her defense while others are blasting her to pieces."

Over the weekend fans came out in support of cook following the Food Network announcement and Deen's online apologies in which she beeged fans and critics for forgiveness. Loyalists flocked to Deen's Savannah restaurant The Lady and Sons, and a "We Support Paula Deen" Facebook page garnered almost 300,000 likes.

Many of Deen's other business associates - including such companies as Sears, Target, Walmart and Random House - have issued statements saying that they are continuing to monitor the situation as it unfolds.

Forbes estimates Deen's net worth at $17 million.

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