Why Airline Crews Skip the Coffee and Tea On Board

Ever see a flight attendant drinking the brewed on-board coffee or tea? Of course not, they always bring their own Starbucks for the flight. Well, there’s a good reason for that and the NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth has the full story:

NBC 5 Investigates has obtained new test results from the Environmental Protection Agency showing how often the drinking water served on commercial airline flights tests positive for bacteria. The numbers show, nine years after EPA launched a major effort to ensure the safety of drinking water on-board planes, the water may not be much cleaner than it was when EPA conducted sample tests in 2004. Now, new EPA data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, shows in 2012, 12 percent of commercial airplanes in the U.S. had at least one positive test for coliform. That’s still just about one out of every 10 planes. “I would say that’s still a high percentage,” said Bill Honker, deputy director of the Water Quality Protection Division, EPA Region 6, in Dallas.

The EPA now requires airlines to test for coliform and E. coli on every airplane at least once year. If a plane tests positive with either bacteria, EPA requires airplanes to flush the tanks and re-test the water. While most airlines now serve bottled water on their beverage carts, many airlines still make coffee and tea with water that comes from a tank on-board. NBC 5 Investigates obtained photos, taken by the Food and Drug Administration inspectors at Texas airports. In some photos you can see slimy residue growing on the nozzles that supply airplane water. Dirty hoses can put bacteria in the tank, including coliform and E. coli.“There’s poop in the water if there’s E. coli in the water, and that’s not a good thing,” said Brenda Wiles, who manages a lab in Fort Worth that is certified to test aircraft drinking water.

Full article here.

Delta Coffee

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  1. of course if a woman designed airplanes, there would never be a bathroom directly across from the galley! Distinct public health hazard.

    Not allowing sick people to change their reservations without exorbitant cost is also
    a public health hazard and will speed the spread of any epidemic coming our way.

    Regulations which protect the public health seem never to be enacted as the airlines lobby that their fiscal health trumps the public health.

  2. @thumbelina Most bathrooms and kitchens are located near each other, not just on aircraft. I see this in the majority of restaurants I visit, as I usually need to pass by the kitchen to visit the restroom even at very nice places. It makes sense when all the plumbing is in one place. The solution isn’t as simple as moving them further apart.

    • But perhaps moving entrances further apart, using that same anti-microbial coating on door handles that they use on toilet flush handles, and installing cameras in commercial kitchens and OSHA requiring folks to wash in there as well as in the bathroom.

      That all being said, I have a pretty strong stomach ;-p

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