A businessman who ran an “unspeakably dirty” Chinese takeaway in Pembrokeshire even though he was already banned from managing a food business has been jailed today.

Zhi Zhao, a Chinese national, operated Grace’s Chinese Takeaway in High Street, Cligerran, “without having a basic understanding” of what was required.

Zhao, aged 62, admitted three food hygiene offences relating to the condition of the premises, one of failing to comply with a food safety improvement notice and one of running a food businesses after being banned by a crown court for earlier offending.

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Zhao, who is now living with a friend in Swansea and making a living as a delivery man, was jailed for four months and ordered to pay £1,000 in prosecution costs.

Martha Smith-Higgins, prosecuting on behalf of Pembrokeshire County Council, told Swansea crown court how council officials inspected the business in January 2018.

The authority, unaware that Maidstone crown court had banned Zhao in 2009 from being involved in any business providing food, issued an improvement notice.

Zhao carried out “some tidying up” but the premises never became fit for purpose and then PCC learned of the earlier ban.

Judge Geraint Walters said in January 2018 the kitchen at the takeaway was “a dreadful mess, unspeakably dirty.”

“If the public had seen the state of that kitchen then you would not have had a single customer.

“It is hard to imagine anything quite so dirty.”

Judge Walters said Zhao had no concept of labelling food or keeping proper records and had no understanding of allergens.

“He is not fit to run any kitchen whatsoever. He does not have even a basic understanding of what is required.

“All that when he should not have been running a food business at all.”

Judge Walters said there should be a national register of banning orders to that local authorities could become aware of court orders made elsewhere in the country.

Craig Jones, the barrister representing Zhao, said he had surrendered the lease to the property in Cilgerran and as far as he knew the business had closed.

Zhao, he said, was staying with a friend in Argyle Street, Swansea, and living off benefits and what he could make on an odd job basis as a delivery man.

Mr Jones said there had not been any reports of anyone becoming ill as a result of buying food from Grace’s.

Judge Walters said that was more by luck than judgement.

“These rules are there for a purpose, to ensure the safety of the public,” he added.