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Cheese leads to false positive results for cocaine in drug test

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Fooling The Drug Use Piss Test For THC?




          May 13th 2011

  ASHEVILLE CALIFORNIA — A favorite food of millions may have been the culprit in false drug-test results that led to a California man’s jailing on cocaine charges.

The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office said Friday an enzyme present in cheese and possibly some types of dough appeared to have yielded false results that led to cocaine charges against Antonio Hernandez Carranza. Hernandez spent four days in the Buncombe County jail until state lab results showed the substances in the back of his truck were tortilla dough, cheese and other food.

Buncombe Sheriff Van Duncan and Lt. Randy Sorrells said they only recently learned how the common food can fool drug tests. Positive tests are considered probable cause and can be used to bring charges and jail suspects under high bonds, effectively keeping them imprisoned.

Along with revealing the test flaw, police are also now saying they will reimburse Hernandez for $400 in food taken following his May 1 arrest.
The plight of the Mexican national, who is a legal resident but speaks little English, angered Latino advocates and brought widespread attention to the Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff said officials are trying to speak with the president of the company of at least one of the test manufacturers.

“What we are going to do now is check with the manufacturers and find out what they have found can cause false positives and put that into the training with our officers,” Duncan said.

Three different field tests indicated the presence of cocaine in food Hernandez said was a gift for his sister in Johnson City, Tenn.

Already in jail under a $1,500 bond for failing to heed blue lights and sirens and driving while intoxicated — a charge later dropped after a breathalyzer test showed no alcohol — Hernandez was charged with cocaine possession and his total bond raised to $300,000.

Deputies say they rushed the food to a state lab for a more definitive test, where they soon learned there were no drugs involved. Hernandez was found guilty of failing to heed lights and sirens and let go on time served.
Confused deputies later redid the tests, which rely on a color change, and noticed that cheese set it off the most, as did the dough, to a lesser extent, Sorrells said.
They then went to state lab technicians.

“They said, ‘It’s not common, but it is known. It’s not the first time they had ever heard of it,” Sorrells said.
Deputies have contacted the manufacturers of the tests to try to get more information, he said.

The sheriff, meanwhile, said his office would reimburse Hernandez for the food.
“We’re going to cut him a check for his food because we kept his food to further test it,” he said.

But Hernandez, in a message given through a translator, said the $400 would not cover other expenses, such as the impound fee for his truck, his tires that were flattened by police stop sticks or clothes in the truck ruined by the rotting food.
“It’s not enough. That doesn’t pay economically for what I lost. That doesn’t pay for my tires,” he said.

The sheriff said he would not reimburse those things because Hernandez was found guilty of failing to yield to police lights and sirens. Hernandez had difficulty getting his truck, Duncan said, because it was registered under another owner.
When deputies looked at the food, Duncan said, shrimp in a cooler was already rotting — something Hernandez denies.

Hernandez said he had been driving three days to see his sister when he realized he had failed to take Interstate 81 to Johnson City and ended up in Asheville. He stopped his truck in a travel lane of I-240 in the early morning with hazard lights on after he thought he saw steam coming from it.

Hernandez said he thought a deputy who approached wanted him to move, so he drove off slowly with this flashers still on. But the deputy said he was trying to stop him and followed with his lights and siren on. Patrol cars blocked his way ahead and put down stop sticks. Hernandez said he wasn’t given a chance to speak and was taken roughly from the car. Deputies said he didn’t respond to verbal commands.
His truck was impounded and his dog taken away. Since that time, he has been able to get back his truck and dog.

Despite allegations from local Latino advocates, Duncan denied that Hernandez’s ethnicity had anything to do with his arrest.

Cheese led to false cocaine charge in Asheville, sheriff says
An enzyme in cheese may have caused false drug test results that led to the jailing of a California man.