So far, the USDA said some of the packages contain vegetables like cabbage and herbs like mint, sage, rosemary, and lavender.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Tallahassee has received 2,193 reports from residents who were sent an unsolicited bag of the seeds in the mail with Chinese characters on the package.
The department is collecting the packages for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, but it remains unclear what is being done with the seeds after collection.
Previous story: Did you get a mysterious packet of seeds in the mail?
Spokeswoman Christina Chitty did not indicate the seeds were being studied by the Florida agency and did not say if experts have any additional information as to what the seeds are.
The packages are most likely a brushing scam, Chitty said, a technique sometimes used in e-commerce to boost a seller’s ratings by creating fake orders.
So far, about 60 residents in Ventura County said they received seeds from Asia, Ventura County agricultural officials said. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/COUNTY OF VENTURA)
State officials are advising Floridians to not open, plant or come in close contact with the seed packets.
The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services partnered with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to make it easier for residents to drop off the seed packages.
The two organizations have collaborated on emergency programs and large scale agricultural issues in the past.
If you get seeds in the mail
- Do not open seed packets and avoid damaging packaging or mailing materials
- Report the seed package to the FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or [email protected]
- Drop the unopened package at your local UF-IFAS Extension office or schedule a pick-up by calling or emailing your local FDACS inspector. Residents must also fill out a specimen submission form to be accompanied with the seed package.
Treasure Coast UF-IFAS Extension offices are located at:
- Martin County: 2614 SE Dixie Hwy., Stuart
- St. Lucie County: 8400 Picos Road, Suite 101, Fort Pierce
- Indian River County: 1800 27th St., Vero Beach
Catie Wegman is a community reporter who also produces “Ask Catie,” an occasional feature to find answers to your burning questions about anything and everything — the more bizarre the better. Support her work with a TCPalm subscription. Contact her at [email protected] or 772-221-4211 and follow her @Catie_Wegman on Twitter and @catiewegman1 on Facebook.
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