Novo, Deen agree to suspend their relationship

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Victoza effort featuring Southern cuisine queen Deen draws flak
Victoza effort featuring Southern cuisine queen Deen draws flak

While the number of lost partnerships continue to pile up around the Paula Deen empire—Caesar's Entertainment, Food Network, Smithfield Hams and, according to the Associated Press, Wal-Mart—Novo Nordisk is splitting the difference, suspending, but not ending its endorsement deal with Southern cook.

Novo tells MM&M the suspension is an open-ended one and the company is going to “give her time to get everything together.”

Deen's reputation and sponsorship business has imploded since last week, when a deposition in which she admitted to using a racial epithet coursed through the Internet. Her handling of the situation has been a combination of acknowledging she used a hurtful word, that she was who she was, and that, as she told Today's Matt Lauer, that she does not know what others consider offensive.

Deen's relationship with Novo started on shaky ground last year. The restaurateur and home cook whose fame had become synonymous with butter and sugar (and as of two weeks ago, literally linked to fat), only revealed her diabetes status when she started touting Victoza. Deen said she had known she was a diabetic for three years.

Novo emphasized that the relationship is not severed and the cooling-off period was a mutual decision. “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,” the company said in a statement.

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