Panera drops controversial Charged Lemonade from drink menu

Written by on May 8, 2024

A Charged Lemonade from a Panera Bread Co. is seen on a table, Dec. 12, 2023, in New York. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — Fast casual restaurant chain Panera Bread is doing away with highly caffeinated Charged Lemonade drinks that have been at the center of multiple wrongful death lawsuits since last fall.

A spokesperson for Panera confirmed to ABC News that is has undergone a “recent menu transformation,” as first reported by Bloomberg.

In an emailed statement, the spokesperson said that the company “will be focusing next on the broad array of beverages,” which includes “low sugar and low-caffeine options.”

The spokesperson declined to comment further to ABC News on litigation or further details on the Charged Lemonade, including when the controversial drink will be pulled from menus.

Panera has faced at least three separate lawsuits regarding its caffeinated lemonade drink since last fall.

In documents previously obtained by ABC News, the lawsuits claimed high levels of caffeine as a result of drinking Panera’s Charged Lemonade led to health complications and two customer deaths.

The latest of the ongoing suits was filed on Jan. 16 and alleged the drink led to “permanent” heart problems suffered by the plaintiff.

Panera has denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement last October following the initial wrongful death lawsuit, which involved 21-year-old University of Penn student Sarah Katz, who died from cardiac arrest after drinking the Charged Lemonade, a Panera spokesperson told ABC News, “We were saddened to learn last week about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz. While our investigation is ongoing, out of an abundance of caution, we have enhanced our existing caffeine disclosure for these beverages at our bakery cafes, on our website and on the Panera app.”

The company issued a separate statement to ABC News in December, following a second wrongful death lawsuit involving 46-year-old Dennis Brown, who had a chromosomal disorder and avoided energy drinks due to high blood pressure, according to his family. According to the complaint, Brown had been drinking charged lemonades for six days before he died, allegedly believing they contained “a reasonable amount of caffeine safe for him to drink.”

“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 spokesperson for Panera told ABC News at the time. “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.”

Panera did not respond to a request for comment on the third lawsuit, which was filed in January and involved a woman named Lauren Skerritt, who claimed she suffered “permanent cardiac injuries” as a result of drinking Panera’s Charged Lemonade.

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