Panera will stop serving ‘Charged Sips’ drinks after wrongful death lawsuits over caffeine content

Panera Bread said it is discontinuing its Charged Sips drinks linked to at least two wrongful death lawsuits because of their high caffeine content.

Panera did not say Tuesday whether the drinks were being discontinued because of the lawsuits or health concerns, and it declined to comment on the timeline for removing them from stores. Panera said it is introducing new drinks with low sugar and caffeine content after listening to customer suggestions.

The St. Louis-based company introduced Charged Sips in spring 2022. The fruit-flavored drinks contain between 155 milligrams and 302 milligrams of caffeine. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a typical 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 95 milligrams of caffeine, while a 16-ounce can of Monster Energy contains 160 milligrams.

For Panera, the drinks helped meet growing customer demand for natural drinks with functional benefits, such as boosting energy or immunity. Charged Sips contained caffeine derived from guarana, a plant extract often used in energy drinks, and green coffee extract.

But last October, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Panera by the family of Sarah Katz, a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student with a heart condition who died in September 2022 after drinking a Charged Lemonade.

Then last December, the family of a Florida man filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against Panera.

In that case, the family said David Brown, 46, went into cardiac arrest and died on Oct. 9 after drinking three Charged Lemonades at his local Panera. Brown’s family said Brown had high blood pressure and did not drink energy drinks, but believed Charged Sips were safe because they were not advertised as energy drinks.

According to the lawsuit, Brown had ordered at least seven Charged Lemonades in a two-week period before his death.

Panera’s online menu now includes the text: “Consume in moderation. Not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or lactating women. It is not clear when that was added.

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