Value judgments are unavoidable in rating systems. The product rating systems from EWG and GoodGuide are no exception. While it’s hard to speak to how EWG rates products, we can highlight a few similarities and differences, based on what we know about our own rating system.
Let’s talk about similarities first:
1) Both EWG and GoodGuide provide consumers the ability to look up health concerns assigned to ingredients in product formulations for categories of products that include packaged food, household chemicals, and personal care.
2) Both EWG and GoodGuide have science teams that include scientific, chemical and technology experts that review data from thousands of sources, including government agencies, manufacturers, product labels, and NGOs (non-governmental agencies).
3) While EWG’s rating scale (1 is best) is inverse to GoodGuide’s (10 is best), both rating frameworks have similar methods—assign health concerns to ingredients, count the number of ingredients with each level of health concerns in the product and assign the rating.
Comparing the ratings from EWG and GoodGuide of the same product, we noticed a few differences:
1) The primary difference between our ratings is EWG’s appear to be more precautionary, willing to call an ingredient a problem based on less scientific or regulatory data than the GoodGuide system requires for the same ingredient.
2) EWG and GoodGuide vary in how they integrate third-party certifications into their ratings. EWG highlights products that have been certified using its own “EWG Verified” certification. GoodGuide recognizes a variety of other third-party certifications (Cradle to Cradle, EPA Safer Choice, and UL EcoLogo). In both cases, the presence of a certification trumps whatever score the product would have otherwise been assigned, resulting in a top score for that product.
3) Through the Safe Use Exceptions, GoodGuide considers the level of exposure based on the type of use, the frequency of use, and quantity used. In scenarios where we know the ingredient is being used below a Safety Threshold, a Safe Use Exception is applied. A Safe Use Exception means the ingredient won’t be penalized by the GoodGuide rating algorithm.
4) EWG aims to give consumers information while also advocating for government policies. GoodGuide is now part of UL, a global independent safety science company, and works to provide consumers with the information they need to make better shopping decisions.
If you are looking for specific information on how GoodGuide rates categories of products, you can read more about the GoodGuide Rating methodology here, and choose the category you’d like to learn more about on the left-hand side.