• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

The Controversy Over Panera’s ‘Charged’ Lemonade Explained

The Controversy Over Panera's 'Charged' Lemonade Explained


Panera’s controversial “charged” lemonade has now been linked to two deaths. After the shocking death of a Philadelphia college student was tied to a caffeinated lemonade drink at Panera Bread, yet another family has come forward alleging that the drink led to the death of their loved one.

Earlier this month, the family of 46-year-old Dennis Brown of Fleming Island, Fla. filed a lawsuit against the fast-casual restaurant, alleging that the company’s Charged Lemonade beverage caused Brown to go into cardiac arrest.

According to the lawsuit, Brown, who had a chromosomal disorder and a mild intellectual disability, began ordering the lemonade in late September, making it a habit after he finished his shift at the supermarket Publix.

The suit says that Brown had high blood pressure and, therefore, avoided drinking energy drinks. According to the lawsuit, Charged Lemonade was not advertised as an energy drink despite containing a significant amount of caffeine. The suit also says the drink was displayed alongside other caffeinated drinks.

“Accordingly, Dennis consumed the Panera Charged Lemonade reasonably confident it was a traditional lemonade containing a reasonable amount of caffeine safe for him to drink,” reads the suit. “Upon information and belief, during his ninety-minutes at PBS, Dennis refilled his charged lemonade two additional times.”

“Panera expresses our deep sympathy for Mr. Brown’s family. Based on our investigation, we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products,” a Panera Bread spokesperson told ABC News. “We view this lawsuit, which was filed by the same law firm as a previous claim, to be equally without merit. Panera stands firmly by the safety of our products.”

The family of Sarah Katz, a University of Pennsylvania student, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in October. The family argued that Katz, 21, went into cardiac arrest as a result of drinking the lemonade, which they too insist was not advertised as an energy drink.

While caffeine is safe for most people in moderation, in very high dosages caffeine can be dangerous, particularly for people with certain underlying health conditions. According to the lawsuit filed by Brown’s family, large 30-ounce Mango Yuzu Citrus Charged Lemonade contains 390 milligrams of caffeine. However, Panera now lists the drink as having 235 mg of caffeine.

For context the daily recommended amount of caffeine is 400 mg, so in either scenario if someone were to get a refill they would easily go over the daily recommended amount.

The company has changed the labeling since the initial lawsuit was filed, but not before Brown passed away. The company now displays warnings on all of their caffeinated lemonade that states caffeine should be consumed in moderation and children, people sensitive to caffeine, and pregnant or nursing women. However, the law firm representing the Katz family argued it wasn’t enough.



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