How Much Caffeine is Too Much? Panera Bread Sued Over Girl’s Death

On September 10, 2022, Sarah Katz purchased a Charged Lemonade from Panera Bread. Shortly thereafter, she went into cardiac arrest and died. Sarah was a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student with a heart condition—long QT syndrome Type 1. A condition her family and friends say caused her to be very guarded about how much caffeine she consumed. These facts have led to a lawsuit filed by Sarah’s heirs against Panera Bread for allegedly failing to provide a clear and adequate warning.

Caffeine in Panera Bread’s Charged Lemonades

If you walk into a Panera Bread and obtain the Lemonade via self-serve, the containers indicate they contain “Charged Lemonade” and identify the flavors in large print. In the small print below, it indicates that a 20 oz cup has 280-360 calories depending on the flavor and the caffeine content is 259-260 mg. A 30 oz cup has 430-530 calories depending on the flavor and 389-390 mg of caffeine.

energy drinkHow Does Panera Charged Lemonade Compare to Coffee?

On the Panera website as of today’s date, Panera describes their Charged Lemonade as “Plant-based and clean with as much caffeine as our dark roast coffee.” Indeed, their dark roast coffee contains 214 mg of caffeine per their website. Looking at Starbuck’s caffeine levels, their coffees can range from decaf with 30 mg caffeine all the way up to the Venti Blonde Roast with 475 mg caffeine—although coffees with that level are rare. A typical cup of Death Wish Coffee has 165 mg of caffeine.

How Does Panera Charged Lemonade Caffeine Level Compare to Energy Drinks?

There are many popular energy drinks on the market, most using caffeine as their booster. A can of Red Bull contains 111 mg of caffeine. So a 30z Charged Lemonade would equal 3.5 Red Bulls in caffeine roughly. Monster Energy Drinks and Rockstar Energy Drinks boast 160 mg of caffeine, which is still less than half what is in a Charged Lemonade. Other energy drinks and their caffeine contents include Celsius with 200 mg, NOS at 260 mg caffeine, Jolt Cola at 280 mg, Bang with 300 mg, Redline Xtreme with 360 mg, and Spike Hardcore Energy with 350 mg per can. So a 30 oz glass of Panera’s Charged Lemonade will give you more caffeine in one sitting than any of the energy drinks out there.

Defective Marketing Claims

Companies selling products to the public have a duty to warn of known risks to reduce the risks that are inherent to the product’s intended use. Whether a warning label is considered adequate often depends upon what the product is and what laws and regulations there are. Warning labels on many food and drug products intended for human consumption/ingestion are more closely regulated. Talk to a Houston product liability lawyer if you have questions about whether a product should have had a warning or a more adequate warning.

Is Caffeine Dangerous at High Levels?

A study published in 2015 in the International Journal of Health Sciences warned “Marketing of energy drinks should be limited or forbidden until independent research confirms their safety, particularly among adolescents.” They reported that “significant cardiac manifestations such as ventricular arrhythmias, ST-segment elevation, and QT prolongation have been documented following energy drink overconsumption.” Furthermore, they noted, “Reports have demonstrated a relationship between energy drink overconsumption and arterial dilatation, aneurysm formation, dissection, and rupture of large arteries.” If you ask the Mayo Clinic, healthy adults should limit their daily caffeine intake to 400 mg per day and 200 mg for pregnant ladies.

Caffeine and Heart Conditions

If you have a heart condition that predisposes you to heart issues, you need to be aware of the amount of caffeine you take in and how it can affect you. Specifically, talk to your physician before consuming any caffeinated drinks to ensure you know how much is safe for you. Also, be sure you know exactly how much the drink you are considering has in it. With energy drinks ranging from 111 mg to 350 mg of caffeine, you cannot assume that one energy drink is safe because you have had other similar drinks.




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