Tesco, Findus, Aldi and other food suppliers named in the recent horsemeat revelations, today formed a consortium to try to re-establish confidence in their beef products, and to put the meat-contamination scandal behind them.
'We do not wish to be permanently saddled with a reputation for unbridled carelessness in sourcing our products,' said a spokesman for the consortium. 'We must take the bit between our teeth and go the extra furlong to buck the trend of shoppers avoiding our processed meat.
'Our companies have decided to adopt a collaborative tack so there is no unfair jockeying for position while the industry gets back on track. We would not want the emergence of some dark horse to impact on our market share. We certainly recognise that it may be hard going, and there will be many hurdles to overcome, but we are confident we can stay the course.
'We must challenge consumer groups who have got onto their high horses over these errors. To blame our members is to put the cart before the horse - we are simply innocent victims of our suppliers. Admittedly we misunderstood when those suppliers guaranteed very low, stable prices, but who would look such a gift horse in the mouth?
'We recognise, however, that a continued failure to vet beef supplies would simply result in flogging a dead horse, and we must rein-in our desires to drive a coach and horses through the prices of our competitors.
'Critics say that we are locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. We believe, however, that they should hold their horses until the full outcome of enquiries are known and we have got all the facts straight from the horse's mouth. In relation to our ready-made casseroles, we have already begun a stewers' enquiry.
'In our direct approaches to the public, it will be horses for courses. Younger people will be encouraged to enter a competition to back us in the social media, and there will be a prize for the winning post. Older consumers will be reassured that our food is a safe bet.
'Using all the above measures, we our confident that our new lines in processed beef products will soon be odds-on favourites with consumers.'