Panera Halts Sales of “Charged” Lemonade Drinks Following Caffeine Overdose Deaths, Lawsuits

Reports indicate that following Panera Charged Lemonade overdoses and injuries, the restaurant chain has stopped ordering ingredients used to mix the caffeinated drinks, which often had highly variable amounts of caffeine.

Reports suggest that Panera Bread will no longer sell its “charged” lemonade products, after at least two consumer deaths were linked to excessive levels of caffeine in some of the drinks, leading to wrongful death lawsuits by the families.

Panera Charged Lemonade was introduced in 2022, featuring high levels of caffeine marketed as an alternative to coffee or energy drinks. However, at least two wrongful death lawsuits were filed against Panera last year, claiming that high levels of caffeine in the beverage led to fatal heart attacks or other heart complications.

While Panera claimed their charged lemonade as plant-based and clean, a 30oz lemonade could contain up to 390 milligrams of caffeine, which is the equivalent of four cups of coffee or three-and-a-half 12-oz cans of Red Bull. In addition, since Panera’s employees mix the lemonade, caffeine levels can vary drastically in different drinks, potentially providing potentially dangerous amounts for some consumers, especially those with certain pre-existing conditions.

Various news reports now indicate that employees are now being told that Panera Charged Lemonade will be phased out, and the chain is no longer ordering some key ingredients used to mix the products in stores.

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Consumer Deaths Prompt Panera to Halt Charged Lemonade Sales

The first Panera Bread wrongful death lawsuit was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on October 2023, by the parents of 21-year-old Sarah Katz, who passed away in September 2022 after consuming a large cup of Charged Lemonade.

Katz was a University of Pennsylvania student, and suffered cardiac arrest hours after drinking the lemonade. She then had a second cardiac arrest episode at a nearby hospital and passed away.

Prior to consuming the Panera Charged Lemonade, Katz suffered preexisting long QT syndrome, which was managed with medication and caffeine limitation. The medical examiner attributed her death to cardiac arrhythmia related to her condition. The lawsuit highlighted Katz’s recent membership with Panera’s “Unlimited Sip Club,” offering free drink refills, and her consumption of Charged Lemonade prior to her passing.

In December 2023, another lawsuit was initiated by the family of Dennis Brown, a Florida resident with a chromosomal deficiency disorder and developmental delay, who also passed away after consuming a Charged Lemonade. Following this, in January 2024, Lauren Skerritt, a 28-year-old woman from Rhode Island, filed yet another lawsuit, alleging that the beverage caused her permanent cardiac injuries.

The lawsuit accuses Panera of failing to properly disclose the ingredients in the charged lemonade, and not warning them about the potentially dangerous caffeine content. The lawsuit states the lemonade is usually placed next to other drinks with less or no caffeine, which might confuse people. It also alleges Panera failed to warn consumers about the dangers of having too much caffeine, like raising blood pressure, heart rate, or cognitive problems.

Caffeine Overdose Risks

Although highly caffeinated drinks like Monster Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar and other beverages have become very popular among teens and young adults in recent years, a number of studies have found that consumption of only a couple energy drinks over a several week period can cause increased blood pressure and heart arrhythmias, which can cause long-term heart problems.

In March 2016, the American Heart Association warned that the overuse of energy drinks could cause increased heart problems including heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest and other potentially life-threatening complications.

In March 2017, a study conduced by Australian researchers linked caffeinated energy drinks to heart problems that can cause rapid, irregular heartbeats in some consumers. The effects could result in fainting, seizures and even sudden death, the researchers warned.

A study published in April 2017 in the Journal of the American Heart Association indicated that those who consumed energy drinks experienced abnormal heart rhythms and prolonged elevated blood pressure, saying that the risks of energy drinks were different than just consuming caffeine alone.

In recent years, a number of energy drink lawsuits have been filed on behalf of otherwise healthy young adults who suffered sudden heart problems within hours after drinking the beverages, alleging that the manufacturers placed their desire for profits before the safety of consumers.


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