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It's the most important meal of the day — but maybe just pack a granola bar.

Andrea Romano
January 20, 2018

It’s not just you, most travelers feel like there’s something fishy about their airplane meals.

Well, not literally fishy (most of the time). But there is a reason why food on airplanes always seems a little suspicious to eat.

A user on Quora who says they are a flight attendant, Shreyas P, warns that airplane food is “very unhealthy,” even if you choose raw or vegan options.

Related: Why You Should Only Ever Book a Flight for the Early Morning

“The food on your tray is prepared...in the aircraft catering which is often done 12 hours before and even days before the aircraft departure,” he said. This is especially true for economy fliers, as some first class sections do offer fresher meals.

Of the foods Shreyas mentions, many of the most questionable items just so happen to be breakfast favorites. 

“The scrambled egg or the omelet that you just had was not only egg but can be a mix of egg and other substitute,” he said. Even fruit is not to be trusted, he added, because there could be a number of additives in it to make it look fresh, even if it isn't.

Related: What Anthony Bourdain Always Orders on a Plane

“Most of us aren't aware of this, but when we are at cruise, the air pressure in an airliner is equal to about 8,000 feet above sea level… In addition to making your ears pop, it causes our taste buds and sense of smell to go partially numb, compared to on ground,” he continued.

Because of this phenomenon, airline catering adds lots of salt, spices, and fat to make food taste less bland.

The bad breakfast news doesn't end there: It might be a good idea to forgo coffee and tea as well. According to Business Insider, an EPA study found that one in every eight planes fails the agency’s standards for water safety, and the water for tea and coffee comes from the tap, not from a bottle, while in flight. According to a 2004 EPA sample of 158 planes, 13 percent contained coliform and two of the airplanes were found to have dangerous E.coli in the water.

“Flight attendants will not drink hot water on the plane. They will not drink plain coffee, and they will not drink plain tea,” a flight attendant told Business Insider.

Maybe just opt for a can of juice or ginger ale. But also make sure to wipe the top of the can.

You can also do what many flight attendants do and buy your meal in the terminal and bring it on the plane. Just be courteous about strong food smells. Your seatmates will thank you.

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