ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida is the latest state to warn people about strange seed packets being received in the mail, possibly from China.
During the past several days, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in a news release said it received at least 1,209 reports from residents reporting such suspicious seed packets in their mailboxes.
The content of the seed package is not yet known and pending testing by the USDA.
The packages appear to have Chinese characters on the label with "China Post" and could be labeled as jewelry, the agency said.
Agency officials said plant seeds coming into the U.S. are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and those of unknown origin could be invasive and introduce disease to the environment.
"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," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in the release.
“Anyone receiving these suspicious seed packets should not plant them, but should report it to our department – and any other foreign objects in unsolicited packages should be reported to the USDA immediately.”
People who receive such a seed package in the mail are asked not to open them and avoid opening the out packaging or mailing materials if possible. Place the seeds and mailing packaging into a sealable plastic bag and then report the contents.
Do not throw them in the trash that could end up in a landfill.
If your package is unopened and contains objects other than seeds you are asked to report it to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Anti-Smuggling Hotline at 1-800-877-3835 or SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.
If you have opened the package and it contains seeds you are asked to report it to FDACS Division of Plant Industry online at FDACS.gov/SeedByMail or schedule a drop-off at your local office.
If you have any questions here is who you should contact: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.gov.
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