Panera called out for false claims that Charged Lemonade has the same caffeine content as Dark Roast coffee

@happily.bella/TikTok Ken Wolter/ShutterStock (Licensed)

’99% of coffee is gonna be in that 80mg range’: Panera called out for false claims that Charged Lemonade has the same caffeine content as Dark Roast coffee

‘I would probably be out for the day if I drank the charged lemonade.’


Phil West


A concerned consumer claiming to know a lot about caffeine content predicted a dire outcome for Panera Bread in the lawsuit involving its Charged Lemonade and the death of a customer.

The video comes from TikTok creator Bella Wolfe (@happily.bella), who has drawn more than 1.8 million views in a single day for her thoughts on the case.

The on-screen text declares, “Why I think the Panera charged lemonade case has a good case of winning.” In the video’s accompanying caption, Wolfe adds, “I havent seen many people talk about the marketing behind these and the possible role itll play in the case but i feel like its important.”

The video starts with Wolfe noting, “From someone who drinks the Panera Charged Lemonades and also is, like, overly aware of caffeine content in things, I have thoughts on the recent case.”

The recent case, according to CNN’s account, involves “a 21-year-old woman with a heart condition [who] is dead after consuming a heavily caffeinated energy drink at Panera Bread that she may have believed was regular lemonade, her parents alleged in a wrongful death suit against the restaurant chain.”

In September 2022, the young woman, Sarah Katz, “experienced cardiac arrest while at a restaurant with friends and died after being transported to the hospital and suffering a second arrest,” according to CNN’s reporting on the lawsuit filed in a Philadelphia court on Monday.

The lawsuit contends, “The ‘Charged Lemonade’ is mixed ‘in-house’ by store employees, meaning that ‘its caffeine content is not controlled and, in turn, has an innate and dangerous potential to vary.’”

Regarding the case, Wolfe says, “So, in case you don’t know, the average daily limit that you should not be … maxing of caffeine is 400 milligrams for an adult. The large Panera Charged Lemonade has 390.”

As for the 400-milligram figure, that comports with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s direction. Its website says, “For healthy adults, the FDA has cited 400 milligrams a day—that’s about four or five cups of coffee—as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects. However, there is wide variation in both how sensitive people are to the effects of caffeine and how fast they metabolize it (break it down).”

@happily.bella I havent seen many people talk about the marketing behind these and the possible role itll play in the case but i feel like its important #panerachargedlemonade #chargedlemonade ♬ original sound – Bella Wolfe 🪩✨

On its page advertising the Charged Lemonade drinks, the Panera website declares, “The NEW Panera Charged Lemonades are the ultimate energy drink guaranteed to charge up your day. Powered by Clean caffeine from guarana and green coffee extract, these caffeinated lemonades feature refreshing mango, cranberry, or strawberry mint flavors. These drinks are cold, caffeinated, and so ready for summer.” Then, it concludes with bold-fonted emphasis, “Plant-based and Clean with as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee.

A note at the bottom of the page adds, “Each beverage without ice contains the following mgs of caffeine:  Strawberry Lemon Mint:  20 fl oz with 260 mg and 30 fl oz with 390 mg; Mango Yuzu Citrus: 20 fl oz with 260 mg and 30 fl oz with 390 mg; and Fuji Apple Cranberry: 20 fl oz with 259mg and 30 fl oz with 389 mg.”

That’s where Wolfe sees an issue.

“I think the thing that people are skipping over a lot is that Panera’s marketing on these lemonades is that it has the same caffeine content as their dark roast coffee,” the creator said.

Wolfe then said a large dark roast coffee at Panera has 268 mg of caffeine. She noted that this amount is comparable to the caffeine content in a regular Charged Lemonade, not a large one.

The creator went on to observe, “Most coffee has like 80 milligrams of caffeine. I personally would never expect a coffee to have 260 milligrams.”

Later in the video, Wolfe doubled down on this, saying, “It’s just deceptive in general because 99% of coffee is going to be in that 80-milligram range.”

Wolfe isn’t the first TikToker to weigh in on the case. As the Daily Dot reported, one creator said she got “caffeine poisoning” from drinking two Charged Lemonades. Another TikToker and ex-Panera worker said most customers were unaware of the drink’s high caffeine content until she warned them.

One commenter noted, “The charged should be behind counters. I’ve seen kids easily pour themselves lemonades at my Panera.”

Wolfe responded, “Agree! I think it’s tricky bc of the sips club/ free refills but no one should be getting refills of them anyway.”

And another commenter said, “Thank you for explaining this bc me and caffeine are not friends. I would probably be out for the day if I drank the charged lemonade.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to both Wolfe and Panera via email.

Update 10:53am CT, Oct. 30, 2023:

In an email to the Daily Dot, Wolfe said she decided to make a video after seeing other videos about the case and seeing folks were blaming Katz for drinking the beverage.

“It made me so upset because there are so many people who have no idea the lemonade has any caffeine at all, let alone nearly the maximum daily limit in a large,” she said. “I’ve talked to many friends about this, and in general there is a huge lack of knowledge in caffeine content and safe limits for caffeine.”

She expressed how commenters on the Katz case had a “huge lack of empathy” and tried to spread the word about how Panera could have done more to prevent it.

“I saw a lot of comments that were people who now have a better understanding of how this happened or are now more aware of caffeine content both in Paneras lemonade and the other caffeinated drinks they consume so I was happy that it did well,” Wolfe said about her viral video.

We crawl the web so you don’t have to.
Sign up for the Daily Dot newsletter to get the best and worst of the internet in your inbox every day.
Sign up now for free
The Daily Dot