HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A mug maker for the Save the Children charity has recalled nearly 2,400 mugs after several showed high levels of lead during tests in California.

A Save the Children spokeswoman said Tuesday night the mugs met federal guidelines for lead content, but had more lead than a voluntary standard to be introduced in California in April 1999.

California's Department of Health Services put out a warning to consumers Tuesday to stop using two types of 20-ounce Save the Children mugs.

The department said samples of the ``Popsicle Faces'' mug and the ``Here comes Santa'' mug were tested and found to have 21.6 parts per million of lead and 57 ppm of lead, respectively. That's higher than the 4 ppm-level the state plans to adopt as a voluntary standard next year.

The current voluntary industry standard, set by the Washington-based Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators, is 25 parts per million.

Tony Reed, director of licensing for the Westport-based charity, said 2,380 of the questionable mugs were distributed nationwide.

The company that makes and distributes the mugs, Norwalk-based Centrum Corporation, has ordered all mugs remaining on store shelves to be destroyed, Reed said. Centrum also asked stores that carry the mugs to hang signs informing customers of California's health warning.

It was unclear how many of the mugs already had been sold, but many remained on store shelves because the 20-ounce size was not a fast-seller, she said.

Lead is toxic to humans, especially small children and pregnant women. Representatives of Centrum did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The recall is the charity's second publicity mishap this year. The Chicago Tribune reported in March that Save the Children and three other children's relief organizations often gave little or no benefits directly to children who were sponsored.

In response, the group said it does not try to fool sponsors, specifying in its ads and literature that the money is used for the entire community in which the child lives.

Reed said eighty cents of every dollar donated to the organization, active in 40 countries, goes to children's programs in health, education, humanitarian relief and to building small enterprises.