Suspicious seed package sent to Canada not from Taiwan: Chunghwa Post

Photo from twitter.com/OPP_CR

TAIPEI (CNA) — A package of seeds sent to an unwitting recipient in Canada was transshipped through Taiwan from a third origin, Taiwan’s postal service said Wednesday, after Canadian police issued a warning about seed packages from abroad.

On Tuesday, police in the Canadian province of Ontario posted a photo on Twitter, showing an open package of seeds in a Chunghwa Post Co. envelope labeled as transshipped in the “Taiwan Free Zone.”

“If you receive an unsolicited shipment of foreign seeds in the mail from China or Taiwan DO NOT plant or dispose of them. Call the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,” the police said, warning that the seeds could be those of an invasive plant that would threaten the environment.

On Wednesday, Chunghwa Post confirmed that it had shipped the package to Canada on behalf of a private logistics company, which had brought it into Taiwan from a client in a third origin.

Chunghwa Post said it planned to levy a fine of NT$100,000 (US$3,413) against the logistics company, which it did not identify, for sending prohibited items through the mail.

According to Chunghwa Post, the logistics company has promised to dissolve its service contract with the client, but was unwilling to identify the sender or confirm whether the package had come from China.

The Canada incident came one day after Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture confirmed that it was testing a suspicious package listed as a soil sample that had been sent, unsolicited, to a Taipei resident from Shanghai in China.

It also follows warnings by United States agricultural authorities about citizens receiving packages of seeds from unknown senders in China.

The seeds may be linked to an online scam called “brushing,” in which a vendor sends items to unwitting recipients, then poses as the verified buyer to write positive reviews and boost their product ratings, U.S. media reports said, citing police.