Meat, bakery and prepared foods giantSara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., said last Friday that Chairman & CEO Brenda Barnes will take a temporary medical leave of absence -- effective immediately -- for undisclosed reasons.

The company said lead independent directorJames Crownwill assume the role of chairman. Sara Lee's board also namedMarcel Smits, executive vice president and chief financial officer, as interim CEO.

 In conjunction, Sara Lee said it created an "Office of the Chairman," which will include Crown, Smits and Christopher (CJ) Fraleigh, chief executive officer of North American Retail and Foodservice. This group will ensure "the continued effective execution of strategic initiatives and further enhance operational efficiencies," the company said.

Sara Lee also namedMark Garveyas interim chief financial officer. He joined Sara Lee in 1995 and has served in several executive posts. He most recently has been senior vice president-Global Business Services and corporate controller.