Why Is Panera Still Selling Charged Lemonade?

Panera is facing a third lawsuit over its highly caffeinated Charged Lemonade.

Panera's line of Charged Lemonade beverages has been the topic of several news stories in recent months. There are multiple pending lawsuits against the company specifically because of the high amounts of caffeine in these drinks, with health complications and even deaths reportedly linked to their consumption. So why do these lemonades remain on the Panera menu at all?

One lawsuit filed in October 2023 seeks compensatory and punitive damages from Panera following the 2022 death of a 21-year-old woman who died after consuming Charged Lemonade. The suit alleges that the lack of labels and signage to disclose the caffeine content of the lemonade contributed to her death. After the lawsuit was filed, Panera added a caffeine warning to the drink both in its restaurants and online.

A second case soon followed: In December 2023, a suit was filed after an October incident in which a 46-year-old Florida resident allegedly drank three servings of the Charged Lemonade and suffered a fatal cardiac arrest afterward. The lawsuit notes that at the time of the customer's death, these beverages were available in self-serve dispensers at Panera, "offered side-by-side with all of the store's non-caffeinated and/or less caffeinated drinks."

Now, a third lawsuit has just been filed against Panera relating to the Charged Lemonade drinks.

The latest lawsuit against Panera

ABC News reports that the suit, filed on January 16, alleges that two-and-a-half servings of Charged Lemonade "caused permanent cardiac injuries" to the plaintiff, who was "otherwise healthy and had no underlying medical condition." The drinks were allegedly consumed in April 2023.

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The woman, a vegetarian, ordered the beverage "because it was advertised as 'plant-based' and 'clean,'" the lawsuit says, but after drinking it she allegedly experienced heart palpitations. The suit describes how she ended up in the hospital and eventually needed to be moved to the critical care unit after her heart rate went up. The lawsuit notes that she continues to suffer side effects like rapid heartbeat, brain fog, heart palpitations, and other symptoms, and she developed a tremor in one hand.

How Panera is changing its Charged Lemonade

We've confirmed firsthand that at some Panera locations, the dispensers for the Charged Lemonade have been moved behind the counter rather than sitting out with the other self-serve drinks. A Reddit thread confirms that service change has been implemented in multiple stores, with an employee dispensing the drinks instead of the customer. However, some commenters who self-identify as Panera employees note that the customer can still easily ask for refills if they want more.

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Another change, and one that hasn't been advertised by Panera itself, is that the amount of caffeine listed in the Charged Lemonades appears to be lower than it used to be. A large serving (30 oz.) of the Charged Lemonade was previously listed as having 390 milligrams of caffeine, which is just under the daily recommended maximum of 400 milligrams per day. Now, a large serving of the Strawberry Lemon Mint Charged Lemonade, the most caffeinated of the three flavors, is listed as containing 236 milligrams of caffeine. That's a stark difference of more than 150 milligrams; to put this in perspective, 150mg is the amount of caffeine in an entire 16-oz. can of original Monster Energy drink.

Panera has not yet responded for a request for comment on the adjusted caffeine levels in the Charged Lemonade, nor has the chain released any statement on the most recent lawsuit. With three lawsuits pertaining to the same menu item, we're bound to see more adjustments made to the Charged Lemonade; we just don't know what form they'll take yet.

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