Pak'nSave's AI meal bot suggests recipes for toxic gas and poisonous meals

PAK'nSAVE's new 'Savey Meal-bot' generates recipes to help people use up leftover ingredients in the pantry and fridge.
PAK'nSAVE's new 'Savey Meal-bot' generates recipes to help people use up leftover ingredients in the pantry and fridge. Photo credit: Newshub.

A supermarket's new AI recipe bot has been suggesting strange and sometimes dangerous concoctions to customers.

It's Pak'nSave's latest addition to help shoppers use up leftover food.

People can go onto the website, enter a few ingredients, and the Meal-bot will generate a recipe - but only using what's entered.

After its release in June, Kiwis on social media have shared hilarious but also potentially dangerous meal ideas - including recipes for chloramine gas, 'methanol bliss' and an 'ant jelly delight' made with ant poison-flavoured jelly.

Pak'nSave says its Meal-bot is designed to help people create meals from leftover food in the fridge or pantry.

However one Twitter user shared a screenshot of a recipe for a 'poison bread sandwich'.

"Spread a generous amount of ant poison-flavoured jelly on one slice of bread," the instructions read.

"Place the other slice of bread on top to create a sandwich," they continued. "Serve with a glass of water to dilute the toxic flavours."

Another even came up with a concoction involving methanol, glue and turpentine as meal ingredients.

"Serve the methanol-glue-turpentine coated bread slices with the tomato and potato mixture," was the suggestion.

A third recipe produced a toxic product upon mixing the ingredients - chloramine gas - which it labelled 'aromatic water mix'.

"Serve chilled and enjoy the refreshing fragrance," the bot said.

Newshub tried the Savey Meal-bot, but it mostly couldn't compute or recognise the ingredients entered.

Political commentator Liam Hehir, who tried out the bot, told Newshub he saw the odd recipes on social media first.

"Some people were sharing the disgusting recipes they were getting it to make by just putting random ingredients in."

He was "partly amused" and checked it out himself, wondering if it had safety protocols or warnings.

"It doesn't seem like it would be that hard to have just a check in the protocol to say, 'hey wait a minute - these are dangerous ingredients that shouldn't be mixed'."

The Meal-bot spat out the recipe for 'aromatic water mix' after he input ammonia and bleach.

"Surely if I put those in it would have some sort of protection or warning," Hehir said, adding however "you'd have to be a real idiot to do it".

"You can't be too harsh on Pak'nSave for it," Hehir told Newshub.

The disclaimer on the website says users must be over 18 - and the recipes aren't reviewed by humans. It does not guarantee suggested recipes will be "suitable for consumption".

The Meal-bot did suggest some proper tasty meals too - although some suggestions were rather unique.

A spokesperson for Foodstuffs, parent company of Pak'nSave, told Newshub the Savey Meal-bot has generated 35,000 meal ideas since launching, saving tonnes of leftover ingredients.

"We want people to have fun with the tool and be safe, which is why when we were developing it, we included a number of safeguards to help ensure it's used appropriately. This includes rules to prevent the use of items that aren’t ingredients."

Households in Aotearoa throw out about $1500 each worth of food every year according to a 2022 food waste survey. The wastage is mostly forgotten food in the fridge.

Foodstuffs told Newshub the company is using emerging technology, AI, which "is an ongoing learning process for us and the AI tech that powers the tool."

"Importantly, before someone can access the tool, they need to confirm they’re at least 18 years old and that they agree to use it for its intended purpose – producing recipes," the spokesperson added.

"We'll keep fine-tuning our controls so we can keep the Savey Meal-bot fun and useful for people wanting recipe inspiration."