GoodGuide’s Tests and Hypocrisy

good guide

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.


  1. JWalker says

    NOT TRUE at all-you have NO idea of how many they produced. They don’t have to provide you with testing results-they have to provide the retailer with a Certificate of Compliance.

    I find you amusing-try reading CPSIA before you start telling us we are all bad. You haven’t a clue.

    The company I work for forecasts our items for a year in advance-that is what we make-the tests are done from that batch-so it is quite possible that you could have a test done last December that is still viable today.

    Golly gee wiz-maybe that’s why Zhuzhu is in short supply.

    Amusing and undereducated about what you think you know.

    • Mihaela Lica says

      Oh yes I do. It’s called logic thinking, and experience in the field my friend. I worked for a LARGE manufacturer who had a factory in China – they started small, like Cepia, and then…

      Oh well, you want to be right. Fine. Zhu Zhu is safe for you. Go ahead, buy for all your family. What do I care? Go advocate this crap to the world – it is really strange that no common sense comment was made on these articles. Only you haters, people who feel an unhealthy need to defend corporates with no ethical standards behind. Guess what? Comments closed and you get banned for violating our comments policy:

      Comments that “are posted with the explicit intention of provoking other commenters or the staff at Everything PR.”

  2. Mihaela Lica says

    @jsmall – another rocket scientist. Great that you say JWalker is right, while missing out the point. Btw, the man who runs Good Guide is a professor – who are you?

  3. jsmall says


    JWalker is right. You don’t know anything about chemical testing or manufacturing. XRF is not optimum for testing materials of irregular shapes. This type of test could not reliably measure the density of antimony in a fuzzy material. Normally, the material to be tested is rendered into a flat disc. See this article on Wikipedia
    And you are using the government guidelines as a ruler, but not using the government method for testing? That is not science, just buffoonery.
    Also, the government does not require additional testing on any other product prior to high production runs, so why should these people have to do it? Just because some people yelled that the sky is falling?
    Third, for this product to be toxic, the child would have to eat the entire toy. If your child is eating stuffed animals, you have more problems than the risk of antimony.
    And as others have pointed out, antimony is a chemical component of fire retardant. Your kids PJs probably have antimony. The danger of antimony poisoning is from ingesting it.
    It is not right or fair for a GoodGuide to publicly slander a product using faulty science. I hope Cepia sues them out of existence.
    We don’t need to run around in a panic because some ignorant people tried to be scientists. It happens all of the time.

  4. JWalker says

    I find your comments interesting-uneducated-but interesting.

    For instance-all testing is paid for by the manufacturer-who do you think is footing the bill for testing?

    According to the CPSIA-you only have to test each new batch-your saying that this is an ‘old’ test means nothing to me, is this an old batch too? How old is old?

    And to say you don’t care about testing method… Perhaps you should read into testing methods and understand them before you go out on your limb.

    An XRF gun has to be used for a 90 second period, was this done properly by Good Guide? I don’t know-do you? Is there test certifiable by a third party testing lab as required by the CPSIA?
    Did you know that an XRF gun can give false answers?

    How do I know all this? I am the US testing manager for a toy company. Perhaps you should do a follow up story after you read the facts.

    This testing, as required by the CPSIA, is raising our prices to consumers by 25% easily. Just an added note-we did all our own testing BEFORE the CPSIA was enacted. The inane requirements of this law have raised the prices-not the bar.

    Oh and add this to one of your stories-the trumpet, trombone or French horn your child or a friend’s child-or perhaps you or a sibling played in school-is now banned under this supposed CPSIA law. Sad that we will now lose our bands to some ill advised overbearing and overburdening laws.

    Based on this new law-I should have been dead years ago. Time to get real.

    • Mihaela Lica says

      If you are a toy tester, you are quite uneducated yourself, or you choose to hide the fact that when production demands grow some factories choose quantity over quality, and that toys are often produced disregarding the safety issues, health issues etc. So yes, a new test makes sense, especially for the Christmas rush. A batch tested in APRIL 2009 is too old. Do you realize that these toys sell like crazy? Cepia didn’t test each new batch, or they’d have newer results to show us.