Thanks to a Brooklyn meat company, one month after Japan re-opened its doors to American beef they've been slammed shut again. Because its workers and inspectors misunderstood regulations Atlantic Veal & Lamb shipped a cut of veal known as hotel rack - a cut Japan sees as a mad-cow risk because it includes spinal cord.

"This was not a situation where somebody was trying to hide something. Quite the opposite happened," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, noting the boxes were correctly labeled but violated Japan's unique rules.

The veal stew was enough for Japan to once again slam the door shut to all U.S. beef exports on Jan. 20, just one month after it had let them back in. Japan had barred U.S. beef from December 2003 to December 2005, citing mad-cow risks.

Until December 2003 Japan was the biggest customer for U.S. beef, importing $1.4 billion a year out of America's total beef exports of $3.9 billion. And yet, according to the Post (so take it as you will) "Johanns brushed off questions about whether the Japanese importer deliberately ordered the forbidden cut hoping to spark a new cutoff of U.S. meat exports." Hmmm...

Gothamist cooked Veal once, though many don't approve of it.

Veal Chops from wickenden's flickr stream.