Rating Drinks products
Drinks are organized into the following sub-categories: juices, smoothies, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, sports drinks, and bottled water.
GoodGuide's drink ratings are based on the same methodology used to rate food products, including:
- The nutritional value of a drink, as characterized by a standard method of nutrient assessment called the “Ratio of Recommended to Restricted Nutrients” (RRR);
- Indicators of whether or not levels of specific nutrients exceed public health guidelines;
- The presence of potentially hazardous additives such as certain food colors; and
- Indicators of various production practices that influence the quality of a food product.
Health Scoring Methodology
The Ratio of Recommended to Restricted Nutrients (RRR) calculates the ratio of “good” to “bad” nutrients, essentially providing an overall picture of a drink's nutrition profile. For drinks, the list of recommended nutrients includes protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber and the list of restricted nutrients includes calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium.
GoodGuide calculates the RRR value for each drink based on the data published on a product's nutrition fact panel. The RRR results are then translated onto GoodGuide's standard scoring range of 0 - 10 according to the following rules:
- Ratings between 0–2 are reserved for products that contain no recommended nutrients. Products with no recommended nutrients are given a default rating of 2, which is then adjusted downward based on the relative amount of restricted nutrients they contain.
- Ratings between 2–6 are reserved for products with more restricted nutrients than recommended nutrients (i.e., a calculated RRR < 1).
- Ratings between 6–10 are reserved for products with more recommended nutrients than restricted nutrients (i.e., a calculated RRR > 1).
This rating approach allows users to distinguish between products that have essentially no nutritional value (rating below 2), products that contain more bad than good ingredients (rating below 6), and products that are on balance good nutritionally (rating above 6).
Public Health Guidelines
Each drink is then further analyzed to determine whether certain nutrients of public health significance (sugar, sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat) are present in levels that exceed recommended thresholds.
- An assessment is conducted on energy drinks to determine whether they contain excessive caffeine. GoodGuide uses thresholds from a variety of authoritative sources, including the Institute of Medicine (the scientific body that provides evidence for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans) and the World Health Organization. These levels are applicable for a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
Potentially Hazardous Food Additives
Products that include potentially hazardous food additives receive lower ratings. Our lists of such additives come from authoritative third-party sources, including the UK Food Standards Agency and The Center for Food Safety.
There is mounting evidence that the benefits of any particular food go beyond just nutrient content. As a result, GoodGuide's ratings also take into account the way a food is produced — which may be associated with health issues outside the traditional focus of nutritional evaluations. For example, we make negative rating adjustments for drinks that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. Alternatively, ratings for drinks that are certified organic, made without genetically modified organisms (GMO-free), or produced without the use of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH, dairy products only) are positively adjusted.
Bottled and Carbonated Water Methodology
Bottled or carbonated waters are not rated using the RRR methodology because these products lack nutritional ingredients. These beverages receive a rating of 10 due to their hydrating properties that are essential for good health.
Bottled Teas Methodology
Bottled teas are rated using an ingredient approach based on three factors: ) the presence of tea in the ingredient statement, 2) the sugar content, and 3) the presence of vitamin C. GoodGuide assumes a product is of better quality if tea leaves or flowers are one of the first two ingredients in a product. Sugar content is evaluated on a sliding scale, with products over 10 grams of sugar receiving the lowest rating. Finally, the presence of vitamin C boosts the product health score. Organic products receive recognition in the same way as other food and drink products.