Panera Bread pulled one menu item after it faced this scary accusation

Mike Mozart from Funny YouTube, USA, CC BY 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Panera Bread is dealing with a public relations nightmare after one product launch went wrong.

Now all hell is breaking loose.

And Panera Bread pulled one menu item after it faced this scary accusation.

Panera Bread’s Charged Lemonade causes controversy

Fast food casual chain Panera Bread launched a new Charged Lemonade in 2022 and the beverage has been mired in controversy ever since.

Trying to capitalize on the energy drink craze, the lemonade had “plant-based caffeine” added to it.

And thirsty customers could pick from three flavors – Strawberry Lemon Mint, Fuji Apple Cranberry, and Mango Yuzu Citrus.

The chain said that a 20-ounce Charged Lemonade had the same caffeine as a 20-ounce cup of dark roast coffee.

But Panera Bread was hit with multiple lawsuits over the beverage, including some that claimed it caused the deaths of customers who drank it.

21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Sarah Katz – who suffered from a heart condition – died from cardiac arrest after drinking a Charged Lemonade in 2022.

Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Panera alleging the restaurant misled consumers about its caffeine content.

The lawsuit claimed that the caffeinated lemonade is “defective in design because it is a dangerous energy drink.”

Panera’s website stated that a large Charged Lemonade had 390 milligrams of caffeine, which is more than any size coffee served at the restaurant.

“I think everyone thinks lemonade is safe. And really, this isn’t lemonade at all. It’s an energy drink that has lemon flavor,” said Kline & Specter attorney Elizabeth Crawford, representing plaintiffs against Panera. “It should have an adequate warning.”

Another second lawsuit was filed against Panera Bread after a Florida man, Dennis Brown, who suffered from chromosomal abnormality died after drinking three Charged Lemonades.

A Rhode Island woman, Lauren Skerritt, filed a lawsuit in January alleging that Charged Lemonade left her with permanent cardiac injuries.

Panera Bread throws in the towel on Charged Lemonade

After an avalanche of bad headlines, Panera Bread is pulling the plug on its Charged Lemonades.

The company didn’t offer an explanation about why it was removing them from the menu.

A Panera spokesman cited a “recent menu transformation.”

“We listened to more than 30,000 guests about what they wanted from Panera, and are focusing next on the broad array of beverages we know our guests desire — ranging from exciting, on-trend flavors, to low sugar and low-caffeine options,” the Panera spokesman said.

Attorney Elizabeth Crawford said that the decision was a good first move.

“This is exactly what we set out to do, to some extent, is to make sure that this poison is taken off the shelves,” Crawford told NBC News in an exclusive interview. “Obviously, it won’t bring back Sarah, and it won’t bring back Dennis, and the life that Lauren used to have.”

“But at least what it will do is prevent this from happening to someone else,” Crawford added.

Whether or not Charged Lemonade was dangerous, the bad headlines it generated made it untenable for Panera Bread to keep it on the menu.

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