TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese officials said Wednesday that a spinal column was found in a U.S. beef shipment in violation of a trade accord that prohibits parts believed to pose a risk of mad cow disease.
A statement from two government ministries said that Japan has informed the U.S. Embassy of the findings and that shipments have been temporarily halted from the California plant involved.
The spinal column was discovered at a Japanese meat-processing factory during an inspection, said the statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
It was found in one of 700 boxes shipped from a plant in California, the statement said.
Japan first banned U.S. beef imports in December 2003 after the first case of mad cow disease was found in the United States.
The ban was lifted in July 2006 on the condition that meat shipped to Japan comes only from cattle aged 20 months or younger, which are thought to pose less of a risk of the disease.
The agreement between the two countries also states that U.S. exporters must remove spinal columns, brain tissue and other materials from beef shipments bound for Japan.