TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — People across the country and in the Big Bend area are finding some surprising and perhaps unsettling seed deliveries in their mailboxes.
So far we've learned that the seeds are coming from China, although each packet may come from a different address. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has received at least 631 reports from Florida residents who have received them as of Tuesday.
When we spoke with the Department of Agriculture, they say it's important to not handle the packages or discard them, but that you should contact their office for pickup.
"Seeds can be invasive or carry disease and so we want to protect the environment," said Christina Chitty, the public information director for FDACS Division of Plant Industry. "We don't want anyone exposing and then them being in a landfill because then they could still actually grow as they are disposed of incorrectly."
What should you do if you receive mysterious seeds from China?
- Place the seed packet AND mailing materials into a sealable plastic bag – this is important to determining the origin of the seeds
- Do not plant the seeds or discard them in the trash that will be landfilled
- Report the seed package to the FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.gov
- After reporting the seed package, an Inspector from the FDACS Division of Plant Industry will contact seed recipients to schedule a safe, contactless collection of the seeds, packaging, and mailing materials
Once they receive the packets, they'll test the seeds to make sure there isn't an agricultural or safety threat.
At this time, the USDA says the seeds could be part of a scam, where unsolicited items are sent in order to post false customer reviews and boost online sales.