- A supermarket in New Zealand used an AI app to create meal plans but ended up recommending dangerous recipes, including chlorine gas. The store is working to ensure the app’s safety and usefulness.
A New Zealand supermarket’s experiment with AI to generate creative meal plans has led to unexpected and dangerous outcomes. The app, developed by supermarket chain Pak ‘n’ Save, was designed to help customers use up leftovers during the current cost-of-living crisis. However, it has been recommending unusual and sometimes deadly concoctions.
Initially drawing attention on social media for its peculiar suggestions, such as “oreo vegetable stir-fry,” the app’s recommendations turned downright hazardous when users began inputting a broader range of household items. Some of these include a recipe for “aromatic water mix,” which would produce deadly chlorine gas, described by the bot as “the perfect nonalcoholic beverage to quench your thirst and refresh your senses.” The app’s cheerfulness does not extend to mentioning that inhaling chlorine gas can cause lung damage or death.
Other concerning recipes shared on social media include bleach “fresh breath” mocktails, ant-poison and glue sandwiches, “bleach-infused rice surprise,” and “methanol bliss” – described as a turpentine-flavored french toast.
New Zealand political commentator Liam Hehir helped draw attention to these issues by posting some of the more alarming recipes on Twitter, prompting others to experiment and share their findings.
Pak ‘n’ Save responded with disappointment, noting that “a small minority have tried to use the tool inappropriately and not for its intended purpose.” The supermarket pledged to “keep fine-tuning our controls” to ensure the bot’s safety and usefulness.
A warning notice appended to the meal-planner admits that the recipes “are not reviewed by a human being” and that the company does not guarantee “that any recipe will be a complete or balanced meal, or suitable for consumption.” It also includes a disclaimer urging users to use their judgment before relying on or making any recipe produced by the “Savey Meal-bot.”