Panera Bread is facing wrongful death lawsuits after two customers in vulnerable populations suffered fatal cardiac events following the consumption of the chain’s Charged Lemonade drinks.
Panera’s regular-sized Charged Lemonade has 260 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, and a large has 390 mg—more than most energy drinks on the market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that most healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day.
The lawsuits assert that Panera’s Charged Lemonade is served side-by-side with drinks containing no caffeine or minimal caffeine, that it was not advertised as an energy drink, and that the product did not have any warnings.
The original lawsuit was filed after a college student with a heart condition died in September 2022 after drinking a Charged Lemonade. The students’ parents, who filed the lawsuit, believe their daughter drank the beverage thinking that it contained a safe amount of caffeine.
The second lawsuit was filed by the family of a man aged 46 years who died of cardiac arrest triggered by hypertensive disease after consuming three servings of Charged Lemonade. He is reported to have had high blood pressure, a developmental delay, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a chromosomal disorder causing a mild intellectual disability and blurry vision.
Panera has called the lawsuits “equally without merit,” based on the belief that the customers’ deaths were not caused by the Charged Lemonade. However, the chain “enhanced the existing caffeine disclosure” on its website and app, and in restaurants.