Philadelphia, PA – A 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student with a heart condition tragically passed away after drinking Panera Bread’s Charged Lemonade. This beverage reportedly contains more caffeine than three cans of Red Bull. The student, Sarah Katz, suffered cardiac arrest just hours after consuming the lemony drink, according to a lawsuit filed by her family in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Katz, who had a heart condition known as long QT syndrome type 1, had been advised by her doctor to avoid energy drinks. Her roommate, Victoria Rose Conroy, emphasized Katz’s commitment to her health, stating that she would never have consumed the beverage if she had known about its high caffeine content.
On September 10, 2022, Katz ordered the large “Charged Lemonade” at a Panera location in Philadelphia, unaware that it contained 390 milligrams of caffeine, more than three times the amount found in a standard 12-ounce can of Red Bull. The lawsuit alleges that Katz believed she was consuming a traditional lemonade or an electrolyte sports drink with a safe amount of caffeine.
Later that day, while dining with friends, Katz experienced cardiac arrest. The family’s attorneys argue that Panera Bread failed to provide adequate warning about the potential effects of the beverage on blood pressure, heart rate, and brain function. The drink was marketed by Panera as a “plant-based and clean” beverage with a caffeine content comparable to their Dark Roast coffee. The beverage also contained guarana extract, a stimulant, and the equivalent of nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar.
The family’s complaint further alleges that Panera included the Charged Lemonade as part of its “Sip Club,” encouraging customers to consume unlimited amounts of the beverage daily. Panera Bread expressed condolences to the family and stated their commitment to transparency regarding ingredients. The company pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, adults should not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, equivalent to about four or five cups of coffee. However, individual sensitivity, body weight, and medications can affect caffeine tolerance. The tragic incident highlights the importance of clear labeling and awareness of caffeine content in beverages.