An American Airlines flight attendant is speaking out against his former employer after allegedly being fired due to a confusion involving his diet.
Andrew Riley, who lives in North Carolina, was fired last year after failing a breathalyzer test, WJZY-TV reports. But Riley, who is now trying to convince both American Airlines and the U.S. Department of Transportation that he deserves his job back, claims the failure was actually a false positive caused by his dietary choices.
“I don’t want to be punished and take consequences for something that I didn’t do,” Riley told WJZY-TV. “That’s like admitting to a crime or going to jail even though I didn’t do it.”
Riley had changed to a Keto diet, which involves a high-fat, low carb meal plan — a fact he said caused the breathalyzer to register an 0.05 blood-alcohol content.
“I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t doing anything, just because I changed my diet,” he said.
This was actually Riley’s second time failing a breathalyzer at work, the first being an instance in 2013 during which he admits he had been drinking. Due to Department of Transportation regulations, flight attendants who fail two drug or alcohol tests face “permanent disqualification” from the job.
Riley wants the agency to reconsider its testing practices, as many doctors claim that Keto diets can, in fact, cause a failed breathalyzer test. Dr. Ryan Lowery, the CEO of Ketogenic.com told WJZY-TV that because the diet changes how a person’s body breaks down food, it can cause the release of alcohol that could trick a breathalyzer.
“With acetone and it will get released as isopropyl alcohol and some devices aren’t able to differentiate between isopropyl and ethanol,” Lowery said.
Additionally, a 2019 Men’s Health article on Keto diets states that many types of breathalyzers — including possibly those used by professionals and law enforcement officials — could be tricked by the same complication.
“I want them to use a more accurate test if someone is giving you a reason why [a false positive] could possibly happen,” Riley told WJZY-TV.
It’s unclear whether Riley will convince the agency to change its rules, or if he’ll get a chance at earning back his old job The former flight attendant has not stated whether he will take any sort of legal action.