Special food grants to be scrapped

Those with phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot tolerate normal levels of protein and currently qualify for grants of $256 a month towards specialised foods. But the Inborn Error of Metabolism (IEM) grants will cease on December 31 under the new Federal Budget.

Mr McEachan must consume exactly 25g of protein each day and he also spends his own money on normal supermarket foods separate to the grant because specialised foods like pasta cost $10 and are only available online.

When he does not adhere to a low protein diet he loses concentration and becomes irritable.

Long-term problems include brain damage, cancer and death.

Atwell mother of three Maria Contera has two children, aged 10 and four, with PKU who can only tolerate 8g of protein a day. �This means about 2-3g of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is about a third of a glass of milk,� Ms Contera said.

She left a full-time role to work two days a week so she had time to manage her children�s meals.

�It�s going to impact us hugely particularly as they get older and eat more,� she said.

The grants were introduced in 2001. Senator Michaelia Cash this week defended the decision to scrap the grants, saying there had been improvements to the cost of foods and medicines since then.

�The Metabolic Dietary Disorders Association�s own dietary handbook points out that a number of now regular supermarket items like cornflour, to replace wheat flour or rice milk instead of diary milk, can be used by people managing a protein disorder,� she said.

�Other people suffering life-threatening food allergies do not have access to government subsidies.�