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Sun, Apr 08, 2007

Dieting Pilot Cleared Of Drinking Charges

Low-Carb Diets May Fool Breathalyzer

A Virgin Atlantic pilot, having failed a breathalyzer and held at Heathrow March 31 prior to a flight to JFK, is one happy man now, as science and diet have cleared his good name.

The unidentified 47-year old pilot had been arrested on suspicion of being "over the limit" because his breath smelled like alcohol. Samples, however, showed the blood-alcohol level of a non-drinker, reported the BBC.

So, what happened?

Tests determined that the pilot's dieting caused his breath to smell like alcohol. According to scientists, low-carbohydrate diets can produce acetone in the body, which may fool breath test equipment. Acetone is produced by the body to make up the glucose absent from low-carb diets like Atkins.

Wayne Jones, a professor in experimental alcohol research at the University of Linkoping. Sweden, told the BBC that breathalyzers can sometimes fail to distinguish acetone from alcohol.

"Then there's a risk you get a false positive reading," he said.

The aircraft was at the terminal gate when the pilot was arrested under the Britain's Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003. The flight was delayed for an hour while the Virgin found another pilot to take charge.

"He has been cleared and is over the moon," a Virgin Atlantic spokesman said. "He is now free to resume his flying career."




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