Dunkin’ launches caffeinated energy drink amid Panera’s Charged Lemonade controversy

Dunkin’ has unveiled a new energy drink on its menu as rival Panera Bread deals with multiple lawsuits related to its own heavily caffeinated beverage.

The company released its new SPARKD’ Energy drink line on Feb. 21 in Peach Sunshine and Berry Burst flavors, according to a press release.

Dunkin’ is jumping on the energy drink trend with a beverage that contains 192 milligrams of caffeine and 37 grams of sugar in its largest size, according to the company’s website.

Panera’s rival Charged Lemonade contains 236 milligrams of caffeine for a similar size. TikTok creator Sarah Baus noted in a viral video in December 2023 that one Charged Lemonade has the caffeine equivalent of about four cups of espresso.

For context, the Food and Drug Administration says healthy adults can safely consume 400 milligrams of caffeine a day.

The Panera drink has been the subject of multiple lawsuits dating back to last year.

Most recently, a 28-year-old Rhode Island woman alleged that the highly caffeinated lemonade caused her to have “permanent cardiac injuries.” She said in the complaint that she now requires daily medication and has heart problems after drinking 2 ½ Charged Lemonades in April 2023.

Her lawsuit marked at least the third legal complaint in recent months against Panera over its Charged Lemonade.

A lawsuit filed in October alleges that University of Pennsylvania student Sarah Katz, 21, died after drinking Charged Lemonade. Katz had a heart condition called long QT syndrome type 1 and avoided energy drinks at the recommendation of her doctors, according to the filing.

In the wake of the initial lawsuit, Panera Bread said all of its stores throughout North America added more detailed disclosures about the beverage to its stores, website and app.

The language states that Charged Lemonade should be consumed in moderation and is not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women.

A second death was blamed on the caffeinated beverage in a lawsuit filed in December by the family of a Florida man. Dennis Brown, 46, who had unspecified chromosomal deficiency disorder, drank three Charged Lemonades from a local Panera on Oct. 9 and then suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on his way home, the suit says.

Panera said that it expressed “our deep sympathy for Mr. Brown’s family” and that it stood by the safety of its products.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com