US confectionery firm Hershey is to introduce a new cocoa label in September communicating that cocoa is a natural source of flavanol antioxidants.

Hershey also will debut a new seal listing the total percentage of cacao solid (the percentage of ingredients in the product that are derived from the cocoa bean) in select dark chocolate products such as Hershey's Special Dark and Hershey's Extra Dark chocolates. Both steps are designed to help consumers better identify which cocoa and chocolate products contain higher levels of flavanol antioxidants, the company said.

Hershey also announced that a new study sponsored by the company in conjunction with Cornell University and Brunswick Laboratories has confirmed that all products containing natural cocoa have flavanol antioxidants. The study also found that the level of antioxidants in commonly available chocolate products is directly related to the amount of natural cocoa contained in that product.

The highest flavanol levels were found in natural cocoa powder, followed by unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and, finally, chocolate syrup.