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Smithfield drops Paula Deen amid fallout from racial slurs; 'Today' interview set

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Paula Deen lost another part of her empire on Monday: Smithfield Foods said it was 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 Paula 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 behaviour of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen."

QVC also said it was reviewing its deal with Paula Deen Enterprises to sell the star's cookbooks and cookware.

"QVC shares the concerns being raised around the unfortunate Paula Deen situation," QVC said in a statement. "We are closely monitoring these events and the ongoing litigation. We are reviewing our business relationship with Ms. Deen, and in the meantime, we have no immediate plans to have her appear on QVC."

Sears said the company "is currently exploring next steps as they pertain to Ms. Deen's products." Wal-Mart, which sells Deen's cookware, was expected to have a statement later Monday.

The rapid downfall came after revelations that 66-year-old Food Network star admitted using racial slurs in the past in a deposition in a discrimination lawsuit. Deen was asked under oath if she had ever used the N-word. "Yes, of course," Deen said, though she added, "It's been a very long time."

Deen insisted she and her family do not tolerate prejudice, and in a videotaped apology, she asked fans and critics for forgiveness. It had been posted online for about an hour when the Food Network released a terse statement that it "will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month." The network refused to comment further.

Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which has Deen's restaurants in some of its casinos, said Friday that it "will continue to monitor the situation." Publisher Ballantine, which has a new Deen book scheduled to roll out this fall, used similar words.

Earlier Monday, NBC's Matt Lauer said Deen would appear Wednesday on "Today." Last week she abruptly cancelled on the morning show before posting her videotaped apologies.

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