Diversified bakery, meat and prepared foods giantSara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., said Chairman & CEO Brenda Barnes, on a temporary medical leave of absence, is recuperating from a stroke.

The company announced Barnes' temporary departure back on May 14 but declined to provide specifics about her condition.

"I know there has been a lot of speculation ... so I want to take the opportunity to provide some details," said Barnes. "I suffered a stroke a few weeks ago and I am now in the process of recuperating."

Sara Lee named Marcel Smits, executive vice president and chief financial officer, as interim CEO. James Crown, an independent director, has been serving as chairman. Sara Lee also formed an Office of the Chairman comprised of Crown, Smits and CJ Fraleigh, chief executive officer of North American Retail & Foodservice.

"I'm pleased to see how effectively our interim team is performing in executing our ongoing strategy and moving the company forward during my absence," said Barnes. "I'm fully confident in this team adn grateful for their expertise and leadership during this time, and also want to thank everyone for their thoughts and support during my absence. It's truly appreciated."