The Entire Panera Bread Charged Lemonade Controversy, Explained

Panera's infamous Charged Lemonades have once again gotten the company into legal trouble. Since the launch of its energy drink line in April 2022, the company has received a slew of public and legal backlash aimed at each beverage's whopping 157-235 milligrams of caffeine per serving. Just a few months after its release, Panera started to display warnings for its Charged Lemonades after a student died from drinking one, which plaintiffs argued would not have happened if the refreshment had the proper warnings. Now, the company is involved in yet another lawsuit.

On December 4, 2023, David Brown and Denise Fuller filed a civil lawsuit targeting Panera for the death of their 46-year-old family member Dennis Brown. The lawsuit states that on October 9, Brown drank multiple Charged Lemonades that he refilled from a Panera location's fountain drink counter. The plaintiffs argue that Panera did not display enough notices about the health hazards associated with its drink, which resulted in Brown dying of cardiac problems while walking back to his residence that same day.

Panera's Charged Lemonade has remained on sale amidst menu cuts

Discontinuing menu items is not an uncommon occurrence Panera. Just months after the release of its Charged Lemonade line, customers began to allege that Panera was getting rid of nearly half its menu, and the company told Food Republic that select locations were indeed trying out a slimmed-down menu. Items included in this cut include sourdough bread, flatbread sandwiches, and several breakfast pastries, but Panera has not made any announcements hinting at the removal of the Charged Lemonades, as of December 15.

In fact, these caffeinated sips are still part of Panera's Unlimited Sip Club, a subscription service that gives customers benefits like special discounts, endless refills, and free deliveries. The latest lawsuit against Panera states this policy allowed Brown to refill his drink twice while he stayed at a local storefront, possibly leading to a caffeine overload. The company provided a statement to Fast Company that denied the charges made by both cases, saying that "Panera stands firmly by the safety of our products."