The American Meat Institute questioned USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service decision to pose a "zero tolerance" policy for potential Salmonella in beef.

The decision, according to AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle, impacts school beef purchase programs that already have policies and procedures in place to fight Salmonella. School food handlers are all trained to cook ground beef to 160 degrees F - a temperature that destroys bacteria.

"We think school children deserve the healthiest possible diets - both at home and at school," Boyle said in a release. "But USDA's Salmonella standard for federally purchased ground beef does nothing to promote children's health."

Boyle charged that the policy was not designed to improve public health but instead appear to be "icons or false symbols of consumer protection."

"Consumers deserve better. No one should be duped into accepting someone's "guess" at a standard as a public health protection measure," he said.