Oh, she looks gentle and sweet. She makes biscuits like your mama did, and tells y’all to come to supper anytime. But when you weren’t looking, Paula Deen got into bed with Smithfield Foods, the Evil Empire of porcine husbandry. In September, Deen struck a deal with Smithfield to promote the company’s products in a series of personal appearances, webcasts, and other forums.

Recently, strong words were launched at the Southern-fried butter queen. Does Deen know nothing about Smithfield’s controversial labor and safety record, with practices so execrable that Smithfield was cited by Human Rights Watch? Or does she just not care?

The protesters who have dogged Deen’s appearances are particularly incensed with her silence regarding Smithfield’s extensive history of workplace and safety violations, employee intimidation and harassment, and the firing of workers who attempted to join a union.

Deen’s response to such concerns, quoted in Texas newspaper the Journal Gazette? “I don’t know enough to talk about it, but that’s just not the Smithfield I know … The people at Smithfield are some of the most ethical people I’ve ever met.” Um. Yeah. They tend to treat their spokes-stirrer a little better than the average Jane Punchclock on the line, Paula.

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