In June, New Zealand supermarket chain Pak’nSave released the Savey Meal-Bot, a gen AI tool that lets users upload a list of ingredients they have, and then the bot would come up with recipes they could try. It was billed as a way for shoppers to save money because New Zealanders throw out around NZ$1,500 of food every year.
Despite a warning that users had to be over 18, no humans reviewed the recipes, and only food items should be entered into the chatbot, people went rogue, and by August, the company went globally viral for all the wrong reasons. For example, Meal-Bot suggested one user make “bleach-infused rice surprise” as a “surprising culinary adventure.” That was bad enough, but its ‘aromatic water mix’ was just a recipe for deadly chlorine gas, though Meal-Bot described it as “the perfect non-alcoholic beverage to quench your thirst and refresh your senses.” And ‘Mysterious meat stew’ included 500 grams of chopped human flesh. Meal-bot described it as “a deliciously hearty and comforting dish that will surprise you with its magical flavors.”
No reports surfaced of customers being poisoned by consuming these recipes, and the tool has since been updated so users can only choose from a limited set of fully edible ingredients. But it still creates unappetizing combinations.