The Japan Meat Traders Association said Wednesday the U.S. government has refused to buy back 1.4 billion yen worth of American beef that was imported but got stuck in customs because banned material was found in one shipment.

Washington said in a letter to the association that it cannot be held responsible for the damages, which affected the group’s 17 member firms, on the grounds the loss stemmed from Tokyo’s decision to halt U.S. beef imports following the discovery in January.

“We don’t support the U.S. view and will consider how to respond to the situation while monitoring relevant developments,” said the association’s director, Tatsuo Iwama.

The association, which groups trade concerns and food manufacturers, asked the U.S. government to buy back 1,300 tons of beef in February after Japan, which had ended a two-year-old import ban on U.S. beef in December, reimposed it in January due to the discovery of a backbone in a veal shipment.

The spinal column is a specified risk material prohibited under the bilaterally agreed export requirements, as it is believed capable of spreading mad cow disease.

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