This paper describes the history of antibiotics use in food animal production, their role in resistance development in bacteria, the European ban on growth-promoting antibiotics and its consequences for human and animal health. In the 1940s, the introduction of antibiotics to treat infectious diseases revolutionized medicine. Unfortunately, antibiotics were used not only in medicine and to treat food animals, but also to prevent animals from contracting diseases and to promote their growth (antibiotic growth promoters – AGPs). These applications and misuse of antibiotics have resulted in the development and spread of antibiotic resistance, which causes treatment failures. This has important consequences for public health, as resistance genes can be passed on to people. The magnitude of the problem is illustrated by the fact that more than 25 000 people in the European Union die each year from infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The use of antimicrobials in animals can impact on public health. For example, the occurrence of vancomycin-resistant enterococci in food animals is associated with the use of avoparcin, a glycopeptides antibiotic used as a feed additive for the growth promotion of animals. Because the use of AGPs has been shown to cause risks to human health, the European Union banned avoparcin in 1997, bacitracin, spiramycin, tylosin and virginiamycin in 1999, and other AGPs since 2006. The data shows that discontinuing the use of AGPs resulted in reducing the levels of resistance in animals and food, and consequently in humans. However, benefits from the widespread ban of AGPs needs to be more carefully weighed against the increase in usage of therapeutic antibiotics in food animals and the growing of resistance in zoonotic food borne bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.