A lawsuit was brought by the parents of a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student, who claimed that Panera’s Charged Lemonade was a factor in their daughter’s demise.
The parents of Sarah Katz claimed that the Charged Lemonade from Panera, which the restaurant chain advertises online as its “ultimate energy drink,” is “unreasonably dangerous” and that the business has neglected to alert consumers to its high sugar and caffeine content.
The lawsuit claims that Panera Charged Lemonade’s designers and formulators knew or should have known that, if consumed, the beverage could harm young people, expectant mothers, people with underlying heart conditions, and anyone else sensitive to caffeine by resulting in serious illness or even death.
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According to the lawsuit, Katz was diagnosed with Long QT at the age of five. According to the American Heart Association, this illness can result in potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms.
As a Red Cap Ambassador for the American Heart Association, Katz also worked to increase public awareness of heart diseases. The lawsuit claims that as a result of her diagnosis, she avoided highly caffeinated beverages, such as energy drinks.
Although the lawsuit claims that in September 2022, Katz used her Panera Sip Club membership to purchase a Charged Lemonade at the restaurant in her apartment complex, mistakenly believing it to be a regular lemonade.
Katz apparently experienced a heart collapse after consuming the lemonade. She was sent to the hospital, where she reportedly experienced another cardiac arrest.
According to the lawsuit, Panera should have provided better warnings because it marketed the drink as “plant-based and clean,” with the same amount of caffeine as the restaurant’s dark roast coffee, rather than as an energy drink. However, the lawsuit pointed out that Panera’s coffee lacks sugar and other additives.
The lawsuit also alleges that because Panera employees mix dangerous components at unknown concentrations to prepare the drink, the Charged Lemonade is “defectively manufactured.”
Depending on a person’s sensitivity, the Food and Drug Administration views up to 400 mg of caffeine per day as safe. The website for Panera states that the standard Charged Lemonade has 260 mg of caffeine, while the large one has 390 mg.
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Over the past year, the drink has become more well-known and controversial as TikTok users have voiced their disapproval of its effects.A TikToker claims that the drink “should come with an alert because it’s delicious and will lead to my cardiac arrest” in a video that has received over 214,000 likes.
Attorney Elizabeth Crawford for the Katz family stated in a statement to HuffPost that the high-caffeine lemonade presents a “hidden danger.”
“The Katz family wants to stop this tragedy from happening to someone else, and Panera Bread’s charged lemonade is an unnoticed risk to the public,” the representative stated. Katz’s friend and roommate, Victoria Rose Conroy, told NBC News that the 21-year-old was always aware of what she ate.
Conroy told NBC that “she was very, very careful about what she needed to do to keep herself safe.” “I swear to God that Sarah would never have touched this with a 10-foot pole if she had known how much caffeine was in it.”
HuffPost did not receive a response from Panera, but the company did inform NBC that it will “work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter.” The spokeswoman told NBC, “We were extremely shocked to learn this morning about the unexpected passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family.” “At Panera, we firmly believe in ingredient transparency.”