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Georgia consumer: Christmas decor recalled because of lead paint
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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with The Home Depot, announces a voluntary recall of 64,000 holiday figurines made in Hong Kong by Creative Design. Surface paint on the plastic snowmen and bears contains lead. Consumers should immediately stop using the holiday figurines and return them to any Home Depot store for a full refund. The figurines were sold exclusively at Home Depot stores in October and November for between $10 and $20.

The SKU number is printed on the bottom of the product.

The recalled figures are: 17" x 16" Holiday Bear Door Greeter, SKU number 894-825; tabletop Snowman with "Let it Snow" Sign, SKU number 894-893; 13" x 17" Three Snowmen with "Joy" Sign, SKU number 898-964; and 7.5" x 7.5" Snowman Votive Holder, SKU number 967-467.

For additional information, contact The Home Depot at 800-394-2064 or visit the firm’s Web site at

Care of holiday and gift plants

Flowering and foliage plants make wonderful gifts. Whether or not they survive the holidays may be directly related to the care they are given. Careful handling is a very important factor that may affect them.

Holiday gift plants are often delivered in waterproof containers or wrapped in foil. If possible, remove these pot coverings or punch holes in the bottom to promote good drainage. Place the pot in a saucer to protect furnishings. Misting plants is not advised and may cause increased foliar disease.

Normal household temperatures (60-75 F) are satisfactory for most plants. Cooler temperatures (60-65 F) lengthen the life of flowering plants, while extremely high temperatures (75-80 F) will usually shorten that time. This is particularly true of forced bulbs, which decline rapidly in the heat. Some foliage plants are subject to chilling injury below 55 degrees. Avoid temperature changes: Put plants away from doors and heater and air conditioner vents.

Proper watering is critical. Large plants in small containers dry out quickly. Also, the relative humidity indoors tends to be quite low during the heating and air-conditioning seasons. Under these conditions, check plants daily. Watering too much can be just as detrimental as watering too little. Potted plants generally should not be watered until the soil is nearly dry to the touch. Then apply enough water that some drains from the bottom of the pot. The excess should be discarded.

For specific information on African violets, amaryllis, Aazalea, as well as other foliage plants, please write to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Office of Consumer Services or call 1-800-282-5852. You also may e-mail, but please include your mailing address.

Question: If I order holiday foods through the mail, how can I be sure that they are safe to eat?

Answer: Make sure the company sends perishable items, like meat or poultry, cold or frozen and packed with a cold source. It should be packed in foam or heavy corrugated cardboard.

The food should be delivered as quickly as possible — ideally, overnight. Make sure perishable items and the outer package are labeled "Keep Refrigerated" to alert the recipient.

When you receive a food item marked "Keep Refrigerated," open it immediately and check its temperature. The food should arrive frozen or partially frozen with ice crystals still visible. Even if a product is smoked, cured, and/or fully cooked, it still is a perishable product and must be kept cold. If perishable food arrives warm, notify the company. Do not consume the food. Do not even taste suspect food.

Tell the recipient if the company has promised a delivery date. Or alert the recipient that "the gift is in the mail" so someone can be there to receive it. Don’t have perishable items delivered to an office unless you know it will arrive on a work day and there is refrigerator space available for keeping it cold.

If you have questions or problems with services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture you may write the Office of Public Affairs, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Room 226, Atlanta, GA 30334 or call (800) 282-5852. This column appears Sundays.