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Cups of caffeinated lemonade are at a Panera Bread Company restaurant in Brighton, New York, on Thursday, December 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Panera to pull highly-caffeinated ‘Charged Lemonade’ from menu after wrongful death lawsuits

Cups of caffeinated lemonade are at a Panera Bread Company restaurant in Brighton, New York, on Thursday, December 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Panera Bread will officially drop its highly caffeinated “Charged Lemonade” from its menu, a decision that comes after a series of wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the company in recent months.

As Law&Crime previously reported, the parents of a 21-year-old student at the University of Pennsylvania sued Panera Bread in October after their daughter, Sarah Katz, died within hours of consuming the soft drink. Katz had a heart condition.

The food chain had a warning on its website at the time stating that its “naturally flavored, plant-based” lemonade had “about as much caffeine as our Dark Roast Coffee.”

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    But those who have sued argue that’s not exactly true. The plaintiffs say if a person orders a large 30-ounce Charged Lemonade, the 390 milligrams of caffeine that comes with it far exceeds any size Dark Roast Coffee without ice.

    The warning label last year also stressed consumers to drink it in moderation and said it was not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women or people sensitive to caffeine.

    The Food and Drug Administration recommends adults consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, according to its website. 400 milligrams, the agency notes, is the equivalent to about four or five cups of coffee.

    A second wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of Dennis Brown, 46, against Panera Bread this December. The Florida man had a developmental delay and chromosomal deficiency disorder. His family said he died of cardiac arrest at his home after drinking three servings of Charged Lemonade, according to the New York Times.

    A supportive living coach told Georgia ABC affiliate WSB last year that Brown “wanted to do well” with his diet, and would report back often about whether he got fruit versus a cookie when at Panera, for example. Brown was often an advocate for people with disabilities. He was a bagger at Publix grocery store for 20 years.

    A third lawsuit was filed by an athlete from Rhode Island. In that lawsuit, NBC News reported, Lauren Skerritt said she had no underlying health issues but after drinking the chain’s Charged Lemonade she now suffers from “permanent cardiac injuries.”

    A Panera spokesperson told NBC that the decision to discontinue Charged Lemonade follows a larger decision aimed at a “menu transformation” that’s been underway at the company and aimed at providing a “broad array of beverages” in “exciting, on-trend flavors, to low sugar and low-caffeine options.”

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