Parents Sue Panera Over Student’s Death

Parents Sue Panera Over Student's Death

( – The popularity of energy drinks continues to climb. These beverages have been available in supermarkets and bars for years, but more recently, are even showing up on the menu at popular restaurants. But are they really safe, especially for teens and young adults who often rely on them to stay awake and alert? The parents of a college student who died after consuming Panera’sCharged Lemonade are now suing the eatery, suggesting that the answer may not be as clear cut as many people think.

Charged Lemonade Consumption Leads to Lawsuit

In September 2022, Sarah Katz, a 21-year-old college student at University of Pennsylvania, consumed Panera’s Charged Lemonade beverage. She assumed the drink was safe. According to the lawsuit filed by her parents, Katz considered it to be a “traditional lemonade and/or electrolyte sports drink” that contained “a reasonable amount of caffeine.”

As someone with a heart condition — Long QT Type 1 Syndrome — Kats was familiar with checking out ingredients before enjoying new drinks. She was conditioned to avoid high-caffeine beverages that could affect her heart’s rhythm.

The lawsuit alleges that Panera failed to warn consumers about the high caffeine levels in its drink. It advertises it as a beverage that contains “as much caffeine as [its] dark roast coffee,” labels it a juice product, and places it next to similar beverages without any kind of disclaimer. While the website does list the amount of caffeine within each drink, there is no sign or notification in the physical store alerting consumers to any potential health risks.

Sarah Baus posted a TikTok video late last year about the Charged Lemonade beverages, saying that they should come with a warning. She notes how she regularly consumed them at Panera while working and told her husband — who has Type 1 diabetes — he should try one. Only when he looked up its contents did they realize it has a stunning 82 grams of sugar and 260 milligrams of caffeine, more than four times the amount of a single can of Diet Coke.

In a twist of irony, the video was reposted in December 2022 on Twitter, with one user cautioning that someone at Panera was going to end up “getting sued.”

Panera Responds

In a statement on Monday, October 23, Panera expressed its condolences to her family. A spokesperson said the company “strongly believe[s] in transparency around [its] ingredients,” and would investigate the matter.

Dangers of Caffeinated Drinks

The dangers associated with consuming excess amounts of caffeine are well known. In some, it can lead to restlessness, shakiness, or insomnia. Others are susceptible to more serious symptoms such as dizziness, increased heart rates, dehydration, anxiety, and dependency. In adults — not to mention teens — consuming an energy drink with high caffeine levels can even lead to an irregular heartbeat or heart failure. It’s also reported that children can be particularly sensitive to caffeine’s effects, and so they shouldn’t have the amount that would be normal for adults.

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