Panera is phasing out its Charged Lemonade amid lawsuits. Here’s what to know — and how it ranks against other popular caffeinated drinks.

Panera Bread is phasing out its controversial Charged Lemonade beverage due to a series of lawsuits and health concerns. The highly caffeinated drink has been linked to two deaths and has prompted legal action against the company. Panera stated that the decision to discontinue the drink is part of its recent menu transformation. A large Charged Lemonade reportedly contains as much as 390 mg of caffeine, leading to questions about its safety. While experts say that caffeine consumption can be safe, it is important for consumers to be aware of their intake. In light of the lawsuits, it is crucial to understand the risks associated with Charged Lemonade and how its caffeine content compares to other popular caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks. By being informed, consumers can make choices that promote their health and well-being.
Panera Bread is currently facing two wrongful death lawsuits, which have brought attention to the potential dangers of their Charged Lemonade beverage. The first lawsuit, filed in October, claims that the drink was responsible for the death of University of Pennsylvania student Sarah Katz, who had a preexisting heart condition and passed away in September 2022 after consuming a large Charged Lemonade. The second lawsuit, filed on December 4th, alleges that the beverage caused the death of 46-year-old Dennis Brown, who suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after drinking three Charged Lemonades from a local Panera. Brown had a chromosomal deficiency disorder, developmental delay, and a mild intellectual disability, and his family claims he avoided energy drinks due to his high blood pressure.

Initially, the 30-ounce Charged Lemonade that Katz consumed was listed as containing 390 mg of caffeine. However, ABC News reports that the previous listing did not account for potential ice dilution, and Panera is now updating its menus and nutritional descriptions. The updated information states that the same drink now contains 237 mg of caffeine.

For comparison, here is the caffeine content of other popular beverages:

  • Panera’s Charged Lemonade (size-large, 30 oz): 390* mg (being updated to 237 mg)
  • CELSIUS Original (12 oz can): 200 mg
  • Monster Energy (16 oz can): 160 mg
  • Brewed black coffee (8 oz cup): 96 mg
  • Red Bull Energy Drink (12 oz can): 80 mg
  • Brewed black tea (8 oz cup): 47 mg
  • Diet Coke (12 oz can): 46 mg
  • Coke (12 oz can): 34 mg
  • Brewed green tea (8 oz cup): 28 mg
  • Chocolate milk (8 oz cup): 2.5 mg
  • Brewed decaf black coffee (8 oz cup): 2 mg
    Here are some surprising takeaways that may catch your attention. For instance, did you know that Diet Coke actually contains more caffeine than regular Coke? And while decaf coffee still has some caffeine, it has less than a typical serving of chocolate milk.

Another important lesson is that size plays a role in determining how you consume caffeine. For example, Monster Energy has a similar caffeine content per ounce as a cup of coffee. However, since Monster Energy is sold in 16 ounce cans, drinking one can is equivalent to consuming about two cups of coffee. Similarly, Panera’s original nutritional data shows that 8 ounces of regular black coffee and 8 ounces of Panera’s Charged Lemonade have approximately the same amount of caffeine. So, if you choose a large Charged Lemonade, you’ll be getting the caffeine equivalent of about four cups of coffee in one cup.

When it comes to consuming caffeine safely, the Food and Drug Administration states that most healthy adults can have up to 400 mg of caffeine per day, which is about four cups of coffee. However, recommendations vary based on individual factors and underlying health conditions. Pregnant individuals, for instance, should not exceed 200 mg of caffeine per day, as advised by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children should avoid caffeinated drinks altogether, while the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that kids aged 12 and above consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day.

It’s also worth noting that the speed at which you consume caffeine is crucial. Consuming too much caffeine in a short period of time can lead to seizures and even death, according to the FDA, as we previously reported on Yahoo Life.
According to Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center, there have been reports of caffeine toxicity resulting from the abuse of energy drinks, particularly among male adolescents. This issue saw an increase between 2004 and 2010.

Jessica Cording, a New York-based dietitian and author of The Little Book of Game Changers, explains that each individual has a unique metabolism, and certain medications can affect how the body processes caffeine. It is advisable to start with smaller amounts to avoid getting caught in a difficult cycle if consumption becomes excessive.

Even for those who are generally healthy, consuming too much caffeine can have adverse effects such as an accelerated heart rate, stomach discomfort, insomnia, jitters, and anxiety.

However, when consumed in safe doses, caffeine can provide significant health benefits, including mood enhancement, improved memory, and the desired pick-me-up to increase alertness and wakefulness.