A regular size of the drink at Panera contains 260 milligrams of caffeine, while a large has 390 milligrams, according to Panera's website
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they are “gathering information” on Panera's "Charged Lemonade" following the death of 21-year-old college student, Sarah Katz. Her parents claim she died as a result of her consumption of the chain's caffeinated drink.
According to legal documents obtained by PEOPLE, Jill and Michael Katz are suing the fast casual restaurant chain after their daughter, who had a heart condition, died in September 2022. The complaint alleges Panera's Charged Lemonade is “unreasonably dangerous." On Thursday, the FDA responded to the reports.
“The FDA is saddened to hear of the passing of a consumer and as always, takes seriously reports of illnesses or injury from regulated products,” an FDA spokesperson said in a statement to PEOPLE. “At this point, we are gathering information about this event.”
The statement continued: “The agency monitors the marketplace of FDA-regulated products and takes action as appropriate, including collaborating with the Federal Trade Commission regarding marketing claims.”
Panera did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment following this update.
A regular size of the Charged Lemonade drink at Panera contains 260 milligrams of caffeine, while a large has 390 milligrams, according to Panera's website. The drink is advertised as containing “as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee.”
The suit recites that Sarah was diagnosed with Long QT Type 1 Syndrome when she was five years old. The condition can cause irregular heart rhythms. The University of Pennsylvania student allegedly avoided stimulants like energy drinks and highly-caffeinated beverages throughout her life as a result of her diagnosis.
The parents’ lawsuit alleges that on Sept. 10, 2022, Sarah bought and drank Panera’s Charged Lemonade “reasonably confident it was a traditional lemonade and/or electrolyte sports drink containing a reasonable amount of caffeine safe for her to drink."
Later that day, she experienced cardiac arrest while at a restaurant with her friends. Once brought to Pennsylvania Presbyterian Hospital, she had another arrest and was pronounced dead.
Per the medical examiner’s report obtained by PEOPLE, Sarah's cause of death was “cardiac arrhythmia due to Long QT syndrome.”
"We were very saddened to learn this morning about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family," a spokesperson for Panera told PEOPLE in a statement at the time. "At Panera, we strongly believe in transparency around our ingredients. We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter."
One of the attorneys on the complaint, Elizabeth Crawford of Kline and Specter, PC, tells PEOPLE it’s “very important to the family to protect other people and make the public aware to save lives.”
According to the lawsuit, Sarah was active in her university community. She served as the membership coordinator and CPR training project chair in the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education. She was also the social chair of her Sigma Kappa sorority.
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