By Australian Associated Press
Published: 02:54 BST, 16 July 2019 | Updated: 09:16 BST, 16 July 2019
Some aged care homes are spending as little as just over $6 a day on food per person as experts warn malnourished residents are "starving to death".
Malnutrition has been labelled the "silent faceless abuser" in Australia's aged care sector, with celebrity chef Maggie Beer among those who argue there is not enough focus on providing food full of flavour, goodness and pleasure.
The best and worst of food has been discussed at the aged care royal commission, from filet mignon and salt-and-pepper squid at one facility to food returned to the kitchen being served up again.
Chefs spoke about being stuck with food budgets of $7-a-day per resident, compared to $17 at the other end of the scale.
An Australian study put the average at $6.08, which nutritionist Dr Sandra Iuliano noted fell short of the $8.25 spent in prisons.
It was almost impossible to meet someone's nutritional needs with $6 a day, the University of Melbourne academic told the commission's Cairns hearing on Tuesday.
Dr Iuliano said new aged care quality standards failed to focus on the resident, their needs and wants, or on giving them the best quality of life.
"Unless there is an incentive to actually get those systems in place, I think we're going to maintain the status quo which to me at the moment is not appropriate.
"It's inadequate because basically these residents are malnourished and they're starving to death."
Dr Iuliano said it was sad many residents had