Panera Bread's infamous Charged Lemonade beverage has claimed a second victim after a Florida man died in October after chugging three servings of the highly caffeinated drink offered by the fast-casual dining establishment, according to The New York Times.
The first fatality linked with Charged Lemonade happened last year in September when college student Sarah Katz died after drinking the beverage.
The latest death, which happened on October 9, unfolded when 46-year-old Dennis Brown was walking home after a stop at a Panera in Fleming Island, according to NYT. He experienced a "cardiac event," collapsed on the ground and became unresponsive. He was later declared dead at the scene.
Before his death, Brown, who had high blood pressure, had ordered a Charged Lemonade and two additional refills before leaving the establishment, the NYT reports. The large-size drink has more caffeine than a buzzed-up cocktail containing 16 ounces of Monster Energy Drink and 12 ounces of Red Bull combined — both of which are no slouches in the energy drink category.
His family has now filed a lawsuit against Panera, the second such legal complaint concerning the drink. (Katz's family filed their own lawsuit against the bread hawker in October, calling Charged Lemonade a "dangerous energy drink.")
The NYT reports that Brown's family likewise charges in their lawsuit that the company didn't advertise that the beverage was an energy drink or offer any warnings that it could harm people sensitive to caffeine, children and breastfeeding women.
Since the filing of the Katz lawsuit on October 23rd, Panera spokespeople said that the company had installed signs all over its restaurants, warning that the drink contains caffeine and should be consumed in moderation. A late November visit to a Panera in Pennsylvania showed that the signs were up.
The signs further warn that the drink is "not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women."
Brown's death happened earlier in October — before Panera put up these warning signs about its Charged Lemonade beverages.
While Brown and Katz can't benefit from Panera's warnings on the caffeine content of its drinks, the two incidents at least highlight the potential danger of excessive caffeine consumption. How much caffeine is too much? And the answer seems to be that it depends.
The FDA says healthy adults can consume "400 milligrams a day," or the equivalent of "about four or five cups of coffee." But the agency cautions that some people may need to be more circumspect about their caffeine habit.
"Certain conditions tend to make people more sensitive to caffeine’s effects, as can some medications," the FDA writes. "In addition, if you’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, or are concerned about another condition or medication, we recommend talking to your health care provider about whether you need to limit caffeine consumption."
And for children, there's no safe limit on caffeine levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under 12 should not have any caffeine, and energy drinks should be off limits from children and teenagers.
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