GoodGuide’s Tests and Hypocrisy

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Does this year’s hottest toy pose a danger to kids? It probably does, it probably doesn’t, we’ll never really know, because the CPSC didn’t run new tests, basing their OK on old tests the manufacturer paid for instead. The CPSC observed that the toy didn’t have any painted surface, and new compliance tests are not necessary according to CPSC’s Gib Mullan, however the agency spokesman said that independent tests will follow.

“CPSC confirmed today that the popular Zhu Zhu toy is not out of compliance with the antimony or other heavy metal limits of the new U.S. mandatory toy standard. We will still do our own independent testing at CPSC. But we’re confident today and can confirm that the toy does not violate the very protective antimony standard that applies to all toys in the United States.”

Everything PR removed all links to sites that sell Zhu Zhu Pets directly, and all affiliate links, because this is a product we no longer believe in, and we will continue this policy till the new tests conclude. A “Zhu Zhu Pets are safe” statement based on old tests ordered and paid for by the manufacturer doesn’t stand. As I already said, only new tests can possibly offer an acceptable resolution. The CPSC concluded too fast and too easy on this matter.

While this story remains as blurry is it gets, an there are even some rumors that Cepia will run new tests, let’s take a brief look at GoodGuide, the company that started all the fuss. This is a site that won numerous awards and accolades. It was declared one of the top 100 websites by PC Magazine, it won TecCrunch Crunchies Most Likely To Make The World A Better Place; it was featured in Oprah Magazine, reviewed by The New York Times, and so on. GoodGuide appears to be a reputable company, and its CEO and founder Dr. Dara O’Rourke comes out like a man who cares about the environment and other important issues.

All things fine, there is however one thing that bothers me, particularly after the Zhu Zhu Pets incident. Although doomed as health hazards, many toys tested by GoodGuide are still linked at and sold. The testing method used by the company is no matter for debate in my view. Toys should be safe, and regardless what testing methodology is involved, dangerous and toxic substances should never be used in the manufacturing process.

If you think about it, the only reason why chemicals are used to manufacture toys (and everything else for that matter) is that they make the whole process cheaper. But cheaper is sometimes detrimental for the environment and our health. Using organic and green materials is more expensive, but not impossible.

If GoodGuide is really committed to its cause, than there should be no “Buy Now” buttons on product listings with low ratings. Otherwise, an action like rating low a popular Christmas toy would translate for many as a PR stunt.

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