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Panera discontinuing Charged Lemonade after lawsuits

Panera Bread is phasing out its Charged Sips drinks after families filed lawsuits alleging that the highly caffeinated drinks were linked to cardiac issues and at least two deaths.

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Bloomberg News first reported the chain’s decision on Tuesday. The company plans to introduce new beverages in the coming weeks to replace the drinks and ordered cafes to stop ordering them in the meantime, according to a memo reviewed by Bloomberg.

In a statement obtained by WSB-TV, Panera said it was making menu changes after listening to the opinions of more than 30,000 customers. The company is “focusing next on the broad array of beverages we know our guests desire – ranging from exciting, on-trend flavors, to low sugar and low-caffeine options.”

New beverages were identified as “Blueberry Lavender Lemonade, Pomegranate Hibiscus Tea, Citrus Punch and a Tropical Green Smoothie,” according to WSB.

The decision comes as Panera faces lawsuits over its Charged Lemonade. The chain earlier advertised the drink online as “Plant-based and Clean with as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee.”

One large Charged Lemonade, a 30-oz drink, contains 390 milligrams of caffeine, or the equivalent of four cups of coffee or three-and-a-half 12-oz cans of Red Bull.

In January, a 28-year-old Rhode Island woman filed suit against the company, saying its Charged Lemonade caused “permanent cardiac injuries.”

Last year, two families filed separate suits claiming that their loved ones died after drinking Charged Lemonade.

In Pennsylvania, the parents of 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Sara Katz said their daughter had a heart condition and avoided energy drinks on her doctors’ recommendations. However, she had a Charged Lemonade and suffered a cardiac arrest, later dying on her way to a hospital, according to the lawsuit.

Katz’s family accused Panera of failing to appropriately warn consumers about the dangers of the highly caffeinated drink, according to NBC News.

A second lawsuit was filed later in 2023 by the family of 46-year-old Dennis Brown, who went into cardiac arrest and died after drinking a Charged Lemonade with his meal at Panera, according to court records.

Last year, Panera added a warning on its website and mobile app telling customers that Charged Sips drinks should be consumed “in moderation” and that they were “not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women.”

In December, Action News Jax told you when the family of Brown, a Jacksonville-area man, filed suit against Panera Bread.

We also spoke with a local health professional, who said too much caffeine can become a problem, and have adverse effects.

“Once you start to feel like you can maybe notice your heartbeat a little bit more, you feel those palpitations, and you feel nausea, those are some later warning sign where you may have reached your own personal caffeine threshold,” UF Health Manager of employee wellness and nutrition, Jon Vredenburg said.

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