Panera Finally Decides To Discontinue Its Controversial Charged Lemonades

After being embroiled in several legal battles over the effects of its charged lemonade, Panera has finally decided to discontinue the drinks. The decision comes less than four months after Panera faced a third lawsuit over its controversial charged lemonades.

Panera released its Charged Sips in April 2022, joining the growing energy drink market. The rollout was introduced alongside a subscription deal that allowed customers to get unlimited refills on drinks. In September 2022, 21-year-old Sarah Katz died after drinking a large amount of the caffeinated lemonade, resulting in Panera's charged lemonade becoming the center of a lawsuit. The next month, 46-year-old Dennis Brown died on a walk home after drinking three cups of the charged lemonade. Both Katz and Brown's deaths were a result of cardiac arrest. Following the second wrongful death lawsuit over its charged lemonades, the soup and sandwich chain got rid of the self-serve options, placing the drinks behind the counter instead. Now, it's pulling them completely.

The discontinuation comes with more menu changes for the company, which it called a "new era" onĀ the Panera website. Along with new menu items, Panera says that it's more focused on listening to its customers. In a statement obtained by Rolling Stone, a spokesperson said that some of the changes involve new low-sugar and low-caffeine drink options to replace the charged lemonades.

Panera denies responsibilities for the deaths at the center of the lemonade lawsuit

Although the company is choosing to retire the controversial Charged Sips, Panera made no reference to its legal battles during the announcement. Following the first two lawsuits, the chain denied its culpability in the deaths of the alleged victims. The lemonades, which Panera claimed to have the same caffeine content as its Dark Roast coffee, actually had 163 milligrams more caffeine than the largest size of the coffee. At 390 milligrams, 30 fluid ounces of the charged lemonade sits right under the 400-milligram recommended limit set by the FDA.

Soon after Katz's death, Panera issued a warning that accompanied the lemonade, stating that it shouldn't be consumed by people who are pregnant, nursing, or sensitive to caffeine. While both victims at the center of the first two lawsuits had pre-existing conditions, the woman who filed the third one claimed that Panera's charged lemonades gave her permanent health problems. After drinking the charged lemonade, 28-year-old Lauren Skerritt claimed that she went to the emergency room due to experiencing heart palpitations and dizziness and was later diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.