The federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a limited recall on the products Dec. 5 and expanded the recall nationwide on Dec. 12.
The pest has not been discovered in Kentucky to the knowledge of the state Division of Forestry, according to John Cotten, director of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Division of Value-Added Wood. Cotten is working with state forestry officials to monitor the situation.
The product-- a decorative cinnamon-scented potpourri mixed with India pine cones, sold under the brand name "Candle-Lite Potpourri"-- may be infested with a type of long-horned beetle that feeds on pine cone seeds, lowering seed production and reproductive potential of the pine trees, according to APHIS. Two species of beetles have been discovered in nine states, including West Virginia and North Carolina.
"This beetle has caused significant damage to pines in India and has the potential to harm our conifer forests, Christmas tree farms and ornamental plant nurseries," Cotten said. "Retailers and consumers can help prevent a potentially devastating infestation.
"Kentucky lost approximately 100 million board-feet of pine to the Southern pine boring beetle between 2000 and 2002," Cotten said. "That pest caused fire hazards and environmental damage as well as long-term potential economic loss in the range of $500 million to $700 million."
Signs of infestation in pine cone products include exit holes in the cone, a sawdust-like material called frass or egg sacs in the crevices between the scales of the pine cones.
APHIS officials urge consumers to either return the contaminated products to the stores where they were purchased or dispose of them properly. Infested products should be double bagged, tied securely, and then disposed of in the trash.
The recall applies to infested pine cones sold in Target, Wal-Mart, JoAnn Fabrics, Lowe's, Dollar Tree, Safeway Frank's Nursery, and K-mart stores nationwide.
The UPC numbers for the affected products are:
009134052930, 024709122192, 071716018702, 076001708344, 076001708337, 076001708269, 076001708245, 076001708252, 076001707415, 076001707408, 076001707422, 076001708306, 076001708320, 076001708559, 076001708542, 076001708560, 076001708566, 643727307450, 721366827680, 750197869675, and 826214004241.
Similar items that do not bear a listed UPC code are not affected by the recall.
Consumers who purchase a product with a matching UPC code are asked to notify the Kentucky Department of Agriculture at (502) 564-4983 or the Kentucky Division of Forestry at (502) 564-4496 so appropriate agencies can be notified. Consumers are at no fault or risk. Please be prepared to give contact information and the store where you purchased the product.
Neither the Kentucky Department of Agriculture nor the Kentucky Division of Forestry is responsible for reimbursement of any contaminated product that you may have purchased.