Many people have recently taken to social media to share about unsolicited packages of seeds received through the mail.
The Florida Department of Agriculture says it has received more than 160 reports from residents of Florida who say they’ve received the strange packages, which are marked with Chinese characters. They warn to not open the packages. The packages have been also reported by multiple states including Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Utah, and others. Some of the packages have been reported to be labeled as jewelery, as well.
In a press release, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says recipients shouldn’t attempt to grow them.
“Plant seeds from unknown sources may introduce dangerous pathogens, diseases or invasive species into Florida, putting agriculture and our state’s plant, animal, and human health at risk,” she says. “Anyone receiving these suspicious seed packets should not open them, should not plant them, should limit contact with them, and should report them immediately.”
Here’s what to do if you have received an unsolicited seed package:
- Do not open the seed packet and avoid opening outer packaging or mailing materials, if possible.
- Do not plant the seeds or discard them in trash that will be landfilled.
- Limit contact with the seed package until further guidance on handling, disposal, or collection is available from the USDA.
- Report the seed package to the FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.gov.
- Report the seed package to the USDA APHIS Anti-Smuggling Hotline at 1-800-877-3835 or SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.