ARS TECHNICA – A second person has died after drinking Panera’s caffeinated “Charged Lemonade” drinks, which contain caffeine levels comparable to strong coffee and are sold in cups as large as 30 fluid ounces that are free to refill.
According to a lawsuit filed by family members Monday, 46-year-old Dennis Brown fell dead on a sidewalk from cardiac arrest while walking home from a Panera in Florida on October 9. Before he left the restaurant, he had ordered a Charged Lemonade and had two refills.
In September, college student Sarah Katz, 21, went into cardiac arrest after drinking a Charged Lemonade from a Panera in Philadelphia. Katz had a heart condition called long QT syndrome type 1 and had avoided energy drinks because of it, according to a lawsuit filed in October by her family.
Like Katz, Brown had also avoided energy drinks because of a health condition, in his case, high blood pressure, his family said in the lawsuit. His cause of death was cardiac arrest due to hypertensive disease.
The lawsuit also noted that Brown had a mild intellectual disability, and it’s unclear if he was aware of how much caffeine was in the self-serve drink, which sat “side-by-side with all of the store’s non-caffeinated and/or less caffeinated drinks.”
It’s also unclear what size beverage Brown ordered and how much caffeine he consumed. The Charged Lemonades come in a 20-ounce “regular” and a 30-ounce “large.”
The three flavors of Charged Lemonades that Panera offers have approximately 13 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, similar to the restaurant’s dark roast coffee, according to the company.
That means a 20-ounce drink with no ice contains around 260 mg of caffeine, and a 30-ounce drink contains around 390 mg. Depending on the beverage size Brown ordered, that could have put his caffeine consumption up to 780 mg to 1,170 mg in the sitting.
The Food and Drug Administration advises that a limit of 400 mg of caffeine per day is generally considered safe for healthy adults, but a lower level is advised for adults with certain medical conditions or who are pregnant or breastfeeding …
BETH MOLE is Ars Technica’s Senior Health Reporter. Beth has a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attended the Science Communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She specializes in covering infectious diseases, public health, and microbes.