Japan is giving U.S. beef exporters a second chance to abide by strict Japanese regulations designed to prevent the spread of mad cow disease. The Japanese government has reopened its market to American beef after a seven-month ban.

After months of talks and inspections of U.S. slaughterhouses, the Japanese government has decided American beef exports are safe from mad cow disease.

On Thursday, Health Minister Jiro Kawasaki announced that U.S. beef from approved slaughterhouses can again be sold in Japan.

Kawasaki says Japanese consumers should consider the beef safe as long as U.S. exporters comply with rules designed to keep infected meat out of the food chain here.

In 2003, Japan banned American beef after a case of mad cow disease was found in the U.S. The government lifted the ban late last year, only to reimpose it in January when inspectors found prohibited tissue in a shipment.

Infected beef can spread a deadly human form of the brain-wasting disease.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer says his government welcomes the opportunity to once again compete in the Japanese marketplace.