Woman dies after drinking caffeinated lemonade from Panera, family sues company

The tragic death of a 21-year-old college student after drinking a Panera lemonade, has put the spotlight on the food brand's policy around its ingredients.

Woman dies drinking caffeinated lemonade from Panera
© Engin Akyurt
Woman dies drinking caffeinated lemonade from Panera

There are foods out there that can be definitely bad for our health, if not outright fatal. Just earlier this year, three people died after eating poisonous 'death cap' mushrooms. Authorities have also sounded the alarm on a 'life-threatening' meat allergy caused by ticks.

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Things get trickier when people are harmed due to negative reactions to ingredients present in foods and drinks, that they were not aware of. There have been several laws put in place to avoid this, including a law named after a 15-year-old girl who died eating baguette.

In a new case reported by People, a family is suing fast-food restaurant chain Panera. They believe that their daughter's untimely death is related to the consumption of Panera's caffeinated lemonade.

21-year-old dies after drinking Panera lemonade

Sarah Katz, a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student brought a Charged Lemonade drink at Panera. This is a caffeinated drink, which the company advertises as containing 'as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee.'

Katz was diagnosed with Long QT Type 1 Syndrome when she was a child, which causes irregular heart rhythms. Her condition meant that she avoided drinking energy drinks or even too-caffeinated drinks, which could be harmful for her.

This is not the first time that customers have been shocked by the caffeine content in Panera's charged lemonade Pedro Forester Da Silva

Katz brought and drank the Charged Lemonade on Sept. 10, 2022, and later that day, she had a cardiac arrest while she was with her friends at a restaurant. She was rushed to Pennsylvania Presbyterian Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

People reports that as per the medical examiner, her cause of death was reported as 'cardiac arrhythmia due to Long QT syndrome.'

Panera in legal trouble for lemonade ingredient

Now, Katz's parents are suing Panera because according to them she did not have any reason to suspect the lemonade was not a regular old drink, and was actually highly caffeinated. The lawsuit states that Katz was

reasonably confident it was a traditional lemonade and/or electrolyte sports drink containing a reasonable amount of caffeine safe for her to drink

As per People, this was not the first time unsuspecting customers have been shocked to discover the sheer amount of caffeine in the Charged Lemonade. TikTok is full of content talking about it.

As per an attorney to the family, they want to bring awareness about the matter to other people.

A Panera spokesperson told People,

We were very saddened to learn this morning about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family.
At Panera, we strongly believe in transparency around our ingredients. We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter.

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Sources used:

People: 'Parents Sue Panera, Claiming Its 'Charged Lemonade' Contributed to Death of Their Daughter with a Heart Condition'

Fast-food triggers a disease that affects more than one million people Fast-food triggers a disease that affects more than one million people