In a Monday lawsuit, the parents of a college student who had a heart problem said that she died after drinking a highly caffeinated beverage from Panera Bread. They likely thought it contained a safe level of caffeine.
The lawsuit claimed that the company had “failed properly to warn” its customers about the dangers of the Charged Lemonade and misrepresented the drink’s “clean” label. This is despite the fact that the large-sized bottle contains more caffeine than both a 12-ounce Red Bull Energy Drink and a 16-ounce Monster Energy Drink.
According to the lawsuit filed at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the student, Sarah Katz (21), drank Panera’s Charged Lemonade on September 20, 2022, and died that same day.
The complaint stated that Katz’s Long QT Type 1 syndrome affects the electrical control system of the heartbeat. The complaint said that she was diagnosed with this condition at age 5, took daily medications, and avoided energy beverages and other high-caffeine drinks.
Katz, a junior student at the University of Pennsylvania, was double-majoring in international relations and health & societies. According to the complaint, she was an ambassador for the American Heart Association as well as a CPR instructor in high schools and communities that were underserved.
Elizabeth Crawford, an attorney for the family of Katz, said Katz had been “really vigilant about her health and medications.” Crawford stated that if Katz didn’t realize this was an energy beverage, the family would be concerned about others who may not know.
Crawford provided a copy of the medical examiner’s report that stated her death was caused by cardiac arrhythmia due to long QT syndrome. The report doesn’t mention Charged Lemonade.
Panera released a statement in which it said that the news of Katz’s passing had “saddened” them.
The statement read: “At Panera we strongly believe that transparency is important when it comes to our ingredients.” “We will investigate the matter thoroughly and quickly.”
A video posted by a TikTok user, who was surprised by the unexpected caffeine content of the drink, garnered widespread media attention about two months after Katz died.
Sarah Baus said that she regularly drank lemonade but only recently learned how much caffeine it contained. She thought this might explain why she always seemed to be productive while working from Panera.
Caffeine sensitivity can vary widely between people. Certain medical conditions and medications may make some people more sensitive.
The Food and Drug Administration states that most “healthy” adults can consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day. This is equivalent to four to five cups of regular roast coffee, depending on brand and roast.
According to the website of the company, a large 30-ounce serving of Charged Lemonade has 390 milligrams. According to the website, a regular 20-ounce portion contains 260 milligrams.
The legal complaint stated that at Panera in Philadelphia, where Katz purchased the Charged Lemonade on September 10, 2022, it was sold next to beverages without caffeine or with less caffeine. The drink was not advertised as a caffeine-free energy drink.
Crawford claimed that she didn’t know how much Katz consumed because she was a member of a Panera subscription program, which offered free refills on a self-serve machine.
According to the complaint, the caffeine content of the drink could have also been affected by the way it was prepared because Panera employees mixed it at the restaurant, which caused “a loss of quality control.”
Katz, who had consumed the lemonade in a restaurant, suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital, according to the complaint. The complaint stated that she suffered a second heart attack at the hospital and died.