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Flying commercially has become quite the adventure the past 20 years, what with enhanced safety requirements and baggage restrictions, to name just two.

Now, a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline has revealed that the water used to make coffee could possibly contain E. coli.

The flight attendant – who wanted to stay anonymous to avoid losing her job – told Vice.com recently: “We recently had a test for E. coli in our water and it didn’t pass. And then maintenance came on and hit a couple buttons and it passed.”

flying commercially cup of coffee

A flight attendant for a major U.S. airline said she routinely warns passengers to avoid coffee and tea made onboard. “Bottled and ice is fine, of course,” she said.

She said she routinely warns passengers to avoid coffee and tea made onboard. “Bottled and ice is fine, of course,” she said.

The revelation is not the first of its kind. In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tested water on commercial airlines and discovered that 12 percent of it was positive for coliform bacteria, which points to the presence of other bacteria.

In addition, Travel + Leisure magazine spoke to an American Airlines flight attendant who said the water tanks “are probably only cleaned out every six months to a year.”

What is E. coli?

In a nutshell, Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are a large and diverse group of bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of mammals. Although most strains are harmless, others can make you very sick. Some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness (such as pneumonia), and other illnesses.