The list of corporate sponsors backing away from Paula Deen continues to grow. Target, Home Depot and diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk are the latest companies to ends their relationships with the celebrity chef after she admitted to using a racial slur in the past.
The embattled TV chef, who appeared on TV yesterday to assure fans that she is not a racist, was previously dropped by Wal-Mart, Caesars Entertainment, and Smithfield Foods, a pork producer that services Deen’s restaurant. In addition, the Food Network announced last week that her contract would not be renewed.
A spokesperson for Target tells ABC News Radio, “We have made a decision to phase out the Paula Deen merchandise in our stores as well as on Target.com. Once the merchandise is sold out, we will not be replenishing inventory.”
According to US Weekly, Home Depot said Wednesday that it would stop carrying Paula Deen products in its kitchen and cookware departments. Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk also dropped Deen, 66, as a spokesperson for their diabetes drug Victoza. Deen has type-2 diabetes.
“Novo Nordisk and Paula Deen have mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed,” the company said in a statement. “Novo Nordisk would like to acknowledge Paula’s involvement in our ‘Diabetes in a New Light’ campaign, where she has helped make many people aware of type 2 diabetes and the lifestyle changes needed to control this serious disease.”
Deen was widely criticized when, in announcing her Novo Nordisk deal, she revealed she’d been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years earlier. High-fat, high-calorie recipes, such as those that are Deen’s trademark, have been shown to contribute to the illness.
A spokesperson for Random House, which is publishing Deen’s upcoming book Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up, similarly told People magazine it is “monitoring the situation closely.” The book is due out in October.
The controversy was sparked by a lawsuit filed by a former employee at Deen’s Savannah, Ga., restaurants, who claims racial and sexual harassment by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier, while working for them. Deen’s attorney denies the claims, but in a suit-related deposition in May, Deen responded “I’m sure I have” when asked if she’d also used the n-word since being robbed, adding, “but it’s been a very long time.”