ST. LOUIS — The board of directors of Panera Bread Co. on June 5 approved a new three-year share repurchase program of up to $600 million. The new program will replace the existing program that was scheduled to expire on Aug. 23, 2015. The share repurchase program and the board’s authorization of the program may be modified, suspended or discontinued at any time.

“We continue to look for opportunities to deploy our capital to drive shareholder returns,” said Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and chief executive officer. “While investing in our core business remains our No. 1 priority, the board’s willingness to extend and refresh the repurchase program is a vote of confidence on the growth potential of Panera and its ability to generate long-term profit growth and appropriate returns for our shareholders.”

Panera just a few days earlier unveiled a new food policy The strategy focuses on the three areas the bakery cafe chain believes it can have a significant impact and is meant to provide a roadmap for continuous improvement and accountability. Those areas are clean ingredients, transparency and a positive impact on the food system. In addition to launching its food policy, Panera has announced it intends to remove artificial additives (colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives) from its bakery cafe food menu by the end of 2016.