Reuters reports that South Korea is having to remove thousands of products from their grocery shelves because they contain tainted Chinese milk. This comes after South Korean authorities earlier this month found melamine, a plastic added to milk to fake boost its protein content, in other products received from China.

South Korea has ordered 23 tonnes of Chinese processed egg products to be destroyed after they were found to be tainted with melamine, the latest in a series of health scares blighting the “made in China” brand.

In an interconnected world, which is a good thing, what happens in another country DOES concern your country. Poor or corrupt regulation and inspection regimes affect us all until we push back. Going “protectionist” is not the answer but neither is “free trade.” Trade is not free if a country lets poisons into their products, use abusive labor practices, or damage the environment. Companies that are allowed these practices have a cost advantage over honest companies. All products from countries that allow any of these practices are potential problems waiting to be caught.

We need “fair trade” which includes open trade but balanced, responsible regulation. The Regan doctrine of “trust but verify” which was applied to arms treaties comes to mind as being applicable here. We were willing to do it with explosive weapons that could kill people. We need to do it with non-explosive items that could kill people as well.

China has been swept by a series of food- and product-safety scandals involving goods as diverse as toys, tires, toothpaste, pet food, fish, beans, dumplings and baby cribs.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc said Wednesday it plans to crack down on its Chinese suppliers, enforcing stricter quality and environmental standards.