Overuse and misuse of antibiotics given to animals we raise for food is endangering children. That’s according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which summarizes evidence linking widespread and inappropriate use of the drugs in livestock and poultry with the development of fierce bacteria that don’t respond to many antibiotics.

The World Health Organization has called the rise of resistant bacteria one of the world’s most serious health crises, putting us on the verge of a “post-antibiotic era.” In the U.S., more than 2 million Americans fall victim to antibiotic-resistant infections each year; 23,000 die as result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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“Physicians have contributed to the antibiotic resistance crisis by overprescribing as well, so it’s not solely the fault of the agriculture industry,” says Jerome Paulson, M.D., lead author of the report and professor emeritus of pediatrics and environmental health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “But we have identified the problem and are working to improve our behavior; it’s time for agriculture to do its part.”

Antibiotics are used very differently in livestock and poultry than they are in humans. Most are not prescribed by a veterinarian to treat illness, but instead are routinely added to the food and water of healthy animals to prevent disease and to promote faster growth with less feed.

Bacteria that commonly cause food poisoning, such as salmonella and campylobacter, have increasingly become resistant to antibiotics. “When resistant infections do occur in children, they can be much harder to treat,” says Paulson. For example, some of the bacteria lurking in contaminated food are resistant to the antibiotics approved for treating food poisoning in children.

“If an animal is sick with an illness that an antibiotic can cure, then by all means they should be treated,” says Paulson. “But the drugs should be prescribed by a veterinarian and shouldn’t be used indiscriminately in healthy animals to promote growth and prevent disease.”

Consumers can also do their part by buying meat and poultry raised without antibiotics, says Paulson. “Even if the agriculture industry doesn’t act of its own accord, the marketplace can demand change.”