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Panera to discontinue its controversial 'charged' drinks that lawsuits linked to deaths

Grace Dean   

Panera to discontinue its controversial 'charged' drinks that lawsuits linked to deaths
  • Panera Bread is discontinuing its controversial Charged Sips that contain high levels of caffeine.
  • The drinks were tied to at least two wrongful death lawsuits against Panera.

Panera Bread is discontinuing its controversial, highly caffeinated Charged Sips range that was linked to at least two wrongful death lawsuits in the US.

The sandwich and coffee chain is phasing out the three drinks and replacing them with other beverages in the next two weeks, Bloomberg first reported, citing a company memo. Business Insider has approached Panera for confirmation.

Panera told Bloomberg that the change was part of its "menu transformation" and that it would be introducing a blueberry lavender lemonade, a pomegranate hibiscus tea, a citrus punch, and a tropical green smoothie.

Panera currently sells two flavors of Charged Lemonade — strawberry lemon mint and mango yuzu citrus — and a blood orange "charged" splash.

At least three lawsuits have been filed against Panera, accusing the chain of not clearly showing customers that the Charged beverages are high in caffeine.

Two of these were wrongful death lawsuits. Another was filed by a competitive athlete who said she had "permanent cardiac injuries" after drinking two-and-a-half cups of the beverage.

Some social media users called the drinks "crack in a cup," saying that Panera's free refill policy means customers could consume huge amounts of caffeine in one sitting.

The company previously told BI that it thought the wrongful death lawsuits were "without merit" and that it stood by the safety of its products.

Panera changed how the drinks were labeled and displayed after the first lawsuit was filed.

The sandwich chain says on its website that customers should drink the beverages "in moderation" and says they're not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, and pregnant and nursing women.

When served with ice, the strawberry lemon mint Charged Lemonade contains 233 milligrams of caffeine for a 30-fluid-ounce cup, the mango yuzu citrus contains 237 milligrams, and the Charged Splash contains 302 milligrams, though this varies depending on how much ice is added.

The drinks were all previously advertised as containing around 390 milligrams of caffeine per 30-fluid-ounce cup, which CNBC reported was for a beverage served without ice.

The US Food and Drug Administration says 400 milligrams of caffeine is a generally safe daily limit for a healthy adult.

At Panera, a 20-fluid-ounce latte or cappuccino has 147 milligrams of caffeine, while an 8.4-fluid-ounce can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine.

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