Three private kindergartens in China have been accused by parents of serving their children rotten and black worm-infested food.
According to the South China Morning Post on Thursday, the controversy came to light on September 19 when parents accused staff at the Tongxin Kindergarten in Wuhu, Anhui province, of serving their children rice infested with black worms for their lunch and using out-of-date vinegar.
Market regulation officials investigated the matter and identified a number of food safety violations at Dedebei Kindergarten and Mingzhu Kindergarten in the region. The three schools were operated by the same company.
As a result of the investigations, the directors of the Tongxin and Dedebei schools were detained, along with an employee responsible for food production.
One father told reporters that his three-year-old son began feeling unwell just three days after starting at the Dedebei Kindergarten.
"He began complaining of stomach aches in the morning," said the man, identified only by his surname, Xi.
"At first I thought he was making excuses not to go to school. But now that I think back, it must have been the spoilt lunches he'd had."
A check-up revealed the boy was suffering from a mild stomach infection, for which he was being treated, the newspaper reported.
Xi said that he and other parents had joined together to talk to the authorities about their proposals for school cafeteria reforms.
"We just want to provide our children with a good school environment. We don't want to pull our son out of school -- he was only just getting to know his classmates," he said.
"But we are also afraid that the government's monitoring will be short-lived and might stop once the outrage over this issue blows over."
The Vice-Mayor of Wuhu, Chen Shaoguang, said that an inquiry was underway within the local government and that eight officials were being investigated.
The Anhui education bureau said that inspections would be carried out in schools across the province during the National Day holidays, which start on Monday.
According to authorities, local schools and kindergartens will be serving lunches provided by an external supplier till the matter gets resolved.