Airplane Coffee and Tea Could Contain Poop and Other Bacteria

Those late night or early morning flights can be really hard to take, and many of us look forward to a warm cup of coffee or tea to jolt us into action. However, if you are used to drinking your tea or coffee on your flight, you may want to think twice. Flight attendants report that they will drink neither coffee or tea onboard a plane. Here’s why.

When you drink coffee or tea onboard an airplane, the water used to make the beverage comes from the tap, not from a bottle. Here is the catch…The tap water can be utterly gross. When the EPA took samples of water from 158 planes, they found that 13% contained coliform bacteria. The water from two planes revealed dangerous E. coli. In addition, the EPA found that one out of every eight planes failed the agency’s standards for water safety.

The water onboard airplanes comes under the regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the Association of Flight Attendants – CWA noted that,

“The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA pushed for this regulation over 15 years ago. The regulation gives broad discretion to airlines on how often they must test the water and flush the tanks. AFA does not believe this regulation goes far enough or is sufficiently enforced.”

Where does the bacteria come from?

The bacteria is likely a result of transportation. A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that more microorganisms exist inside the transport vehicles than in the original source. The organisms are then passed from truck to the plane.

People with compromised immune systems should be extra cautious

According to Dr. Cedric Spak, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor University Medical Center, people who have a weak immune system should stay clear of in-flight drinks made from water. Also, persons with infants should not use tap water to make formula or give to their children.

What about bottled water?

You can bring your own water and other liquids for travel as long they meet TSA requirements including:

  • The bottle has to be completely frozen: “Frozen liquid items are allowed through the checkpoint as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen liquid items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 liquids requirements.”
  • You show the bottle to the TSA agent: You must present the bottle to a TSA agent who must be able to see completely through it.

To keep your liquids from unfreezing you can bring a mini cooler along (cloth is best) – which is great for breastfeeding parents.

A word to the wise

Leave enough time in the morning to have a cup of coffee or tea on the way to the airport but try to avoid those tempting, warm on-flight beverages at all costs.

Coffee or tea anyone? No thanks!

-The Alternative Daily

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