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Suspicious Seed Packets New Updates From FDACS

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has updated their recommendations for residents receiving suspicious seed packets by mail.

Why is this a concern for Florida residents?
  • The types of seed in the packages remains unknown at this time.
  • The introduction of plant seeds into the United States is tightly regulated by the USDA.
  • Seeds of unknown origin may
    • constitute agricultural smuggling
    • be invasive
    • introduce pathogens, toxins, or plant and animal diseases
    • pose a risk of foodborne illness
    • or pose a threat to plant and animal health.
UPDATED information on what to do

At this time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) believes the seeds to be part of a “brushing” scam, where unsolicited items are sent in order to post false customer reviews and boost online sales. Upon receiving seed packages from recipients, the USDA will test the contents to determine if a risk is posed to agriculture or the environment.

There are two options available for handling unsolicited packages or plant material received in the mail:

  1. Report the seeds or plants and submit them for testing or
  2. Dispose of the seeds or plants using the methods described below.
Report Seeds or Plants Received by Mail and Submit for Testing

Instructions for mailing seed packets:

  1. Complete the USDA’s online reporting form. Place seed packets and/or plant material and mailing materials in a sealable plastic bag, and then place everything into a mailing envelope.
  2. Include your name, address, and phone number to contact you for additional information, if needed.
  3. Send seeds to the address below:

USDA APHIS PPQ
3951 Centerport St.
Orlando, FL 32827

Disposing of Seeds or Plants Received by Mail

Disposal option for seed packages:

  1. Do not open seed packet.
  2. Completely wrap and enclose the packet with duct tape.
  3. Double bag the wrapped seed packet in sealable plastic bags, squeezing out any air, and seal tightly.
  4. Completely cover the folded bag with duct tape. This will help prevent the bag from bursting and will keep water and sun from reaching the seeds.
  5. Discard in trash.

Destruction option for seeds/plants already planted:

  1. Do not compost.
  2. Remove plants, including soil (at least 3 inches of surrounding soil if planted in ground).
  3. Double bag the plants and soil in sealable plastic bags, squeezing out any air, and seal tightly.
  4. Discard in trash.

For potted seeds/plants:

  1. Dispose of the planting container in two trash bags, as described above (recommended).
  2. If you wish to keep the planting container, remove as much soil as possible with a paper towel.
  3. Wash the planting container with soap and water to remove any remaining dirt. It is important to wash the container over a sink or other container to catch the run-off. Discard the run-off down the drain or flush down a toilet.
  4. Soak the planting container in a 10% bleach solution for 30 minutes and rinse.
Stay up-to-date 

Thank you for your help with this alert!

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online. The Plant Clinic is available to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Due to covid-19, please give us a call, or email us at polkmg@ifas.ufl.edu.

The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

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