Parents in Pennsylvania, USA, have filed a lawsuit against five childcare workers at a YMCA centre for giving children alum in pickling salt as a punishment.
Alum can cause an intense burning feeling in the mouth and stomach, and can also cause diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and choking.
Several parents in South Connellsville, near Pittsburgh, have filed the lawsuit against the workers at the YMCA Child Development Centre.
One of the mothers, Shannon Partridge, was allegedly told by the centre's assistant group supervisor Rebecca DeWitt that a six-year-old was disciplined with alum in January last year, according to the Uniontown Herald-Standard.
Partridge says in court documents that she questioned her own two children about this and they allegedly told her about a white powder that hurt their mouths.
The mother claims that her children had stomach pains, vomiting and other symptoms and one child had nightmares over the incident.
The Herald-Standard says Partridge and fellow parents Brian and Janean Ansell, Jessica Harr, Rodney and Lori Humbertson, Amber Doppelheur, Ryan Timms and Hillary Hamborsky are requesting a jury to the hear the case on behalf of their children.
The other parents also apparently have similar stories about their children being given alum as a punishment.
The defendants include individual YMCA employees Stephanie Griffith, who is accused of the January 2009 incident, along with Kristen Homes, Ann Lancaster, Derek Hillen and Kerri Trich as well as the YMCA itself.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of negligence, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Brian DelVecchio, a Pittsburgh attorney representing the parents, told the Herald-Standard: "The children can't speak for themselves... We have to be the voice of these children."
However, the YMCA is not commenting on the allegations because litigation is pending.