Panera Axes Controversial High-Caffeine Charged Sips Amid Lawsuits, Plans Healthier Alternatives


In a surprising turn of events, Panera Bread has officially announced the discontinuation of its Charged Sips beverages which had found themselves in the midst of controversy due to high caffeine levels. Notably, at least two wrongful death lawsuits had been implicated in connection to these drinks. Though the exact reasons for the discontinuation remain undisclosed, the wearied silence of the company in response to queries about ramifications of the lawsuits or potential health issues leaves room for speculation.

Simultaneously, Panera expounds upon its intent to heed customer feedback, introducing new beverage alternatives that are low in both sugar and caffeine. The next phase in its beverage roster, however, is kept under wraps with no details shared on the removal timeline of the Charged Sips from retail stores.

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The St. Louis-based firm welcomed the Charged Sips in the spring of 2022. As fruit-flavored refreshments, the drinks encompassed caffeine ranges from 155 to 302 milligrams, surpassing, by some measurements, the caffeine content in a typical 8-ounce cup of coffee, which according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, holds 95 milligrams of caffeine. Even more astonishing, they also exceeded a 16-ounce can of Monster Energy carrying 160 milligrams of caffeine.

For Panera, Charged Sips were a strategic response to a burgeoning customer demand for beverages with natural ingredients offering functional benefits, like enhancements in energy and immunity. The caffeine-boost for these drinks was derived from guarana, a traditional element in energy drinks, coupled with green coffee extract.

However, the wave of praise for Charged Sips curbed in October when it was implicated in a wrongful death lawsuit. The suit was filed by the family of University of Pennsylvania student Sarah Katz, who was a 21-year-old diagnosed with a heart condition. Katz’s untimely demise in September 2022 was reportedly linked to the consumption of a Charged Lemonade.

Further intensifying the scrutiny on the Charged Sips, was a subsequent wrongful death and negligence lawsuit filed in December by the family of a deceased Florida man. The family of 46-year-old David Brown attributed his bout of cardiac arrest and subsequent death on October 9, to the drinking of three Charged Lemonades at a Panera outlet. Brown had an established medical history of high blood pressure, but since Charged Sips were not overtly advertised as energy drinks, the family held the belief that they were safe.

The case documentation recorded that Brown had ordered a minimum of seven Charged Lemonades in the fortnight megaflorian his ill-fated demise.

Presently, Panera’s online menu carries a consumer advisory: “Consume in moderation. Not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women”. Alas, the timing of this insertion remains as much a mystery as the other queries mired in the Charged Sips saga.